This is What is Wrong in Singapore. Now, are You Willing to See It?

Since the people in Hong Kong would march onto the streets to show their disdain to their government but Singaporeans are willing to just sit back, it must mean that the people in Singapore are really contended with their government, right?

Singapore and Hong Kong are sister cities in many ways, but yet when it comes to stepping up and taking a stand, why do the people in Singapore differ so much from Hong Kong?

Is Singapore a really better place to live in than Hong Kong?

On the surface, the Umbrella Movement, as the month-long protest in Hong Kong is called, is a call for democracy by its citizens.

But rooted in this demand is the fact that the cost of living in Hong Kong has increased and income inequality has widened to the extent that livelihoods have become more difficult for the people in Hong Kong.

The people in Hong Kong have attributed this to a government which only looks out for business interests while allowing the lives of ordinary Hong Kong people to languish.

Singapore and Hong Kong: Sister Cities United in Cronyism and Inequality

Indeed, Hong Kong is ranked first on The Economist’s crony-capitalism index.

But Singapore is not ranked far behind. Singapore is fifth. Singapore is the fifth easiest in the world for someone to get rich if they are politically-affiliated.

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In fact, estimates put the Singapore government as owning as much as 60 percent of the Singapore economy. The Singapore government owns two investment firms, GIC and Temasek Holdings, which also owns the major companies which provides essential services in Singapore.

Hong Kong is the most unequal economy in the developed world but Singapore follows immediately behind, being the second most unequal.

Not only that, Singapore is also the most unequal country in Southeast Asia – yes, even more unequal than countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

But this is perhaps up to where Hong Kong can be seen as doing worse than Singapore. On other measures, Singapore performs even more disastrously.

But Singapore is Even Worse Off than Hong Kong

The rich-poor gap in Singapore is the highest among the developed countries.

How much richer are the richest 20% than the poorest 20%

The executives in Singapore are the highest paid among the developed countries. Hong Kong only comes in third.

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The Hong Kong government implemented a minimum wage in 2011 and defined a poverty line last year.

Minimum wage in Hong Kong stands at about $1,300. It was revised upwards last year. Poverty is set at 19.6 percent.

In Singapore, however, the government has been heavily resistance towards implementing a minimum wage and refuses to define a poverty line, claiming that this will create a “cliff effect”.

Singaporeans still do not know how a poverty line will lead to a “cliff effect” or what a “cliff effect” actually means.

Singapore’s De Facto Minimum Wage of $1,000 is the One of the Lowest in the Developed World

Earlier this year, the Singapore government finally decided to increase the basic wage of cleaners from $850 to $1,000. Last month, they said that security guards would receive a basic wage of $1,100 (up from only $800 now), but the government will only allow this to take effect after two years, in 2016. By then, the real value of $1,100 would have decreased.

Cleaners and security guards form the bulk of low-income workers in Singapore.

Even though the Singapore government insists on not implementing an official minimum wage, the $1,000 that cleaners would be getting can be taken to be the de facto minimum wage.

But even this de facto minimum wage is even lower than the $1,300 that the people in Hong Kong get and when compared to the other developed countries, Singapore has the lowest, if not the lowest minimum wage.

For countries with a comparable level of national wealth and cost of living, Japan has a minimum wage of about $2,000, Australia and Switzerland has roughly $3,000 and the lowest-paid Norwegians earn around $5,000.

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Even as Singapore is now ranked the most expensive city in the world by The Economist, the lowest wages that Singaporeans receive mean that Singaporeans have the lowest purchasing power in the developed world – even lower than Hong Kong and on par with India.

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Singapore’s Poverty Rate is Estimated to be 30 Percent

A study by National University of Singapore (NUS) Associate Professor Tilak Abeysinghe has shown that the poorest 30 percent of Singaporean households have to spend 105 percent to 151 percent of their incomes.

In fact, the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) 2012/13 showed that the average monthly income of the poorest 10 percent of households is only $1,043 but they have to spend $1,844, which means that they have to spend a whooping 177 percent of their incomes!

Not only that, only 55 percent of their income was derived from work, while they are forced to beg for financial aid from the government for the rest of the 45 percent.

Thus in spite of not having an official poverty line, the poverty rate in Singapore is estimated to be around 30 percent (and link here), and up from 20 percent about a decade ago.

Today, 30 percent of Singaporeans earn less than $2,000 in wages every month.

But the depressing conditions do not stop there.

The Singapore Government Spends the Least on Healthcare among the Developed Countries

The Hong Kong government spends about 50 percent in health subsidies while the Singapore government is only willing to spend 30 percent.

The Singapore government also forces Singaporeans to pay into a national health insurance scheme but in this Medisave scheme, where Singaporeans have put in $66 billion, Singaporeans are allowed to use only 1.3 percent of the money accumulated.

The Singapore government also provides Medifund subsidies for the poorest of all Singaporeans but even in the $4.1 billion accumulated, the government is only willing to return Singaporeans only 3 percent.

This has resulted in Singaporeans paying the highest out-of-pocket expenditure among the developed countries.

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Whereas the people in Hong Kong only need to pay a cap of S$20 for daily inpatient care and treatment, there is no similar cap in Singapore. One operation can set a Singaporean by an average of more than $1,500.

And if someone would need to go for multiple operations in a year, it would set them back by several thousands of dollars.

For lower-middle income Singaporeans who do not receive adequate assistance from the government and who are barely able to save for their expenses (two-thirds of the middle income have only enough to buy what they need but not anymore else), this would ensure that they go into certain debt.

It has become more commonplace now to hear of Singaporeans who have had to sell their homes or even chosen to die because they cannot afford to pay their healthcare bills.

In fact, Singapore is now ranked as having the second highest debt in Asia, and debt due to the inability to pay for medical bills makes up 22 percent of the debtors.

And when comparing the hot potato topic of the retirement funds, the Hong Kong Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) earns annualised returns of 5.5 percent every year, while Singaporeans only earn an average of 3 percent on the Central Provident Fund (CPF). And when you compare with other similar provident funds, even the Malaysian Employees Provident Fund earns a much higher 6.35 percent and the India Employee’s Provident Fund earns nearly triple the amount of 8.75 percent.

Singapore’s Wealth are Not Being Returned to Singaporeans: The Government Takes the Money away for Themselves

Are Singaporeans doing better off than the people in Hong Kong?

Not really. In fact, Singaporeans fare much worse.

The South China Morning Post has shown how the personal consumption expenditure as a percentage of GDP for the people in Hong Kong has maintained itself at about 65 percent. However, for Singaporeans, this has gone down to 35 percent.

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And the household spending per capita in Singapore has also grown much slower than in Hong Kong.

All these even as the GDP per capita in Singapore has risen much faster than Hong Kong, and Singapore today has one of the highest national wealth.

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But why are Singaporeans still the poorest among the developed nations?

It does not help that the Singapore ministers pay themselves the highest salaries in the world – the Singapore prime minister earns a reported $2.2 million which puts him at the richest 0.1 percent in Singapore.

The Members of Parliament are paid $15,000 a month which puts them at the richest 5 percent in Singapore.

Half of Singaporeans do not even see $3,000 every month.

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When compared to one the most equal countries in the world, the lowest-income Norwegian earns $5,000 a month while the Norwegian prime minister earns only $25,000. The wage gap in Norway is only $20,000, as compared to the gap of nearly $200,000 in Singapore. It would take only five years for a low-income Norwegian to earn what their prime minister earns, but it would take nearly 300 years for a Singaporean to do so.

The Singapore government has been controlled by the same ruling party for the past 55 years. In recent years, they have increased their own salaries in 1984, 1994, 2000 and 2007. With each increase, income inequality rose, followed by the increase of the share of income to the rich in the following year.

From 1995, the share of income that goes to the richest 10 percent in Singapore has spiked up from 30 percent to 42 percent in 2011.

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The country is getting rich, yes, but the wealth is not being returned to the people. The current ruling party, which has controlled the government, businesses, labour unions, media and pretty much everything else has allowed the wealth to stay at the top while any claimed trick-down economics never happened.

Singapore might rank 5th on the crony-capitalism index but the real extent of the situation is worse than that and goes unreported.

Singapore is moreover ranked 150th and 152nd on the press freedom index by Reporters without Borders and Freedom House, respectively.

It is clear Singaporeans’ lives are in many ways more compromised than the people of Hong Kong. Yet, why have Singaporeans not spoken up? Are they contended to live in slave-like conditions?

If not, why do Singaporeans not speak up?

The Singapore Government Clamped Down on Singaporeans’ Rights and Free Speech

In 1963, the current government launched a political attack on more than a hundred opposition members, and labour and student unionists. They detained these Singaporeans under the Internal Security Act (ISA), and without trial.

Some of these Singaporeans were imprisoned for more than 30 years and released only when they are very old, when the government felt that they no longer could pose a political threat to the regime.

Recent revelations by the British archives showed that the Singapore government had no reason whatsoever to arrest these Singaporeans. The government claimed that the people they arrested were communist insurgents but it has been revealed that when the British intelligence had then investigated, they found no evidence of this.

Over the next few decades, the government continued to use the ISA against Singaporeans who spoke up against the government’s policies.

In 1987, another more than 20 activists, social workers and lawyers were rounded up and imprisoned, some by more than two years, before the government was pressured to release them after more than 200 organisations around the world protested against the Singapore government’s actions.

From the late 1980s, the government started to use the defamation law to sue opposition politicians to bankrupt them and to prevent them from running for elections. The defamation law was also used against the international media if they were to critique the Singapore government. An opposition party member was sued for more than $8 million.

By last year, the defamation law, Sedition Act and the charge of Contempt of Court were also used against ordinary Singaporeans.

Even as the Singapore Constitution allows for the freedom of speech and expression, as well as the freedom to assemble and protest, the government has but then made it illegal for a group of five people or more to assemble. In 2009, the government created the Public Order Act to make it illegal for even one person to protest.

The only space that Singaporeans are allowed to protest today is at the Hong Lim Park, in a secluded part of town. However, two weeks ago, the government backtracked on this and charged six Singaporeans for joining a protest there.

Even as the lives of Singaporeans are being withheld from them, the Singapore government disallows them from being able to speak up about their plight, causing Singaporeans to live and suffer in silence.

The people in Hong Kong can stand and fight because they are aware of their rights and have the space to protest against the tyranny of their government. However, the Singapore government has used the law to their advantage to marginalise the rights and lives of Singaporeans.

The irony is that the people in Hong Kong know that against China, they have minimal influence but for Singaporeans, if as many people as in Hong Kong would stand and fight, the current ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP) would fall.

However, blinded by their fears, Singaporeans choose not to stand up. Singaporeans also choose to rationalise themselves into believing that their lives are acceptable.

Clearly, it is not.

The Dual HDB-CPF Mechanism to Control Singaporeans’ Lives and Tie Them Down

The Singapore government has also used several tools to entrap Singaporeans into a state of institutionalised submission.

The dual institutions of public housing and the CPF retirement funds has been used to great effect, to siphon off Singaporeans’ wages into these “assets”, to then trap Singaporeans into a situation of perpetual work to pay off these “assets” which they have been led to believe that they “own”.

The government controls the public housing programme and sets the prices. Nearly 90 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing. Singaporeans do not own these Housing Development Board (HDB) flats that they have been made to “buy”. They only lease it for 99 years – it is long-term renting.

As Singaporeans do not earn enough in wages to pay for the flats, they have to use the CPF to pay for these flats. Today, Singaporeans have to sacrifice 37 percent of their wages into the CPF retirement funds – or the highest social security contribution rate in the world.

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However, even so, Singaporeans actually have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world.

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The reason is because the government unilaterally increase the flat prices – Singapore has the most expensive public housing in the world and one of the highest property prices in the world today.

The Singapore government also incorporates land costs into 60 percent of the flat prices even though Singaporeans do not own the land the flat sits on, and the government has actually acquired the land very cheaply in the 1960s.

Singaporeans then use their CPF to pay into ever-increasing housing prices, which saps away their retirement funds. Today, Singaporeans have to pay an average of 55 percent of their CPF Ordinary Account into housing mortgage loans.

As such, the Singapore government’s dual control of the HDB and CPF allows the government to siphon off Singaporeans’ money into these two “assets” which they have led Singaporeans to believe that the people own.

On top of the lowest wages that Singaporeans are made to earn and with one of the highest prices in the world, this means that Singaporeans are forced to work for the rest of their lives because they can never save enough to even retire. This also explains why there are so many elderly Singaporeans who continue to work as cleaners, labourers and cardboard collectors.

Meanwhile, the government takes Singaporeans’ CPF retirement funds to invest in the GIC to earn about 6 percent in annualised returns but returns only an average of 3 percent to Singaporeans’ CPF. The government claims that they have mixed up the funds that the GIC uses and is thus unable to return the full 6 percent to Singaporeans. However, it is likely that the all the funds that the GIC uses are made up fully of Singaporeans’ CPF, when including the money that is not being returned.

In total, each Singaporean is losing as much as hundreds and thousands of dollars, or even millions, to the government.

As such, the government has no right to retain the additional 3 percent. Such retention is unethical, for lack of a better word.

Yet all this while, even as they take Singaporeans’ CPF to invest in the GIC, the government still denied doing so several times in 2001, 2006 and 2007, before they were forced to admit the truth by May this year.

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The Singapore Government Profit from Singaporeans across All Sectors

In fact, the government profits from Singaporeans across all sectors – in healthcare, housing and retirement (as explained above), and also in education and transport etc.

In education, the government makes Singaporeans pay about $400 million to study in local public universities. However, the government gives away close to $400 million to international students to study for free in Singapore, and public universities save more than $400 million in surplus. The tax collected from Singaporeans do not go back towards investing in Singaporeans but are siphoned off for other uses, or absorbed into the government’s own coffers.

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Similarly, in transport, Singaporeans pay enough in transport fares to cover for the operating expenses of the transport operators. Yet, Singaporeans also pay tax. In most other developed countries, the government would use the tax collected to subsidise half of the transport fares.

The government also owns the major companies in Singapore, as well as the companies which provide essential services in Singapore, such as healthcare, education, telecommunications, public transport, public utilities etc, and jacks up prices of these services unilaterally which squeezes Singaporeans to the brim.

In fact, the Singapore government’s lack of transparency goes all the way to the top – last year, there is an undeclared surplus of $23.1 billion that the government did not report to Singaporeans.

Singaporeans are Angry

It is not for a lack of anger that Singaporeans are not speaking up.

The latest iProperty Asia Property Market Sentiment Report showed that more than half of Singaporeans felt that resale flat prices are not affordable.

A Blackbox Research survey also showed that more than half of Singaporeans believed that the CPF is unfair. Among low- and middle-income Singaporeans, a higher 60 percent believe that the CPF is unfair.

The CPF Debate cropped

A survey by medical students from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine also showed that more than half of Singaporeans felt that healthcare in Singapore is unaffordable. 72% of Singaporeans felt that hospitalisation, day surgery and chronic disease follow-up procedures are too expensive.

Another survey by the Lien Foundation found that medical costs are Singaporeans’ top fear of dying, with 88 percent of Singaporeans saying that it scares them the most.

A survey by this author of nearly 3,000 Singaporeans also showed that nearly 90% believe that a minimum wage of between $10 and $15 per hour should be implemented.

Singapore has A Lot of Money Which Can Be Used to Improve the Lives of Singaporeans

It is also not for a lack of funding that Singaporeans cannot be taken care of.

Last year, Singapore has an undeclared surplus of $23.1 billion. In fact, since 2005, there is a staggering more than $200 million that has not been declared by the government to Singaporeans!

There is more than $65 billion in Medisave and nearly $4 billion in Medifund that is not given back to Singaporeans. This represents 98% and 97% of the funds that are not being used, respectively.

In education, the public universities have at least $450 million in surplus. The government still has excess to give another nearly $400 million away for international students to study in Singapore.

For transport, one transport operator SMRT announced that it saw a 75.5 per cent rise in net earnings to $25.3 million just for the second quarter of this year (which ended on September 30) alone.

HDB earns at least 60 percent in profit from each sale of a flat that it is estimated that they could easily have earned between $100 billion to $200 billion in profit over the years.

There is a total balance of $265 billion inside the CPF retirement funds, of which Singaporeans were able to withdraw only $15 billion to use last year (or less than 6 percent).

Of the interest on the CPF earned by the GIC, it is estimated that close to $200 billion has not been returned to Singaporeans.

There is also possibly another trillion in the Singapore reserves (with GIC managing an estimated $400 million, Temasek Holdings managing $223 billion and another $340 billion in the Official Foreign Reserves managed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore).

In total, there are hundreds of billions of dollars, or even trillions, that the PAP government has siphoned off from Singaporeans that would very easily be able to give all Singaporeans, and even non-Singaporeans in the country, free healthcare and education, and allow all elderly Singaporeans to retire today.

Singaporeans would also be able to truly afford their homes and would not have to spend their whole lives paying off the flat mortgage.

It would only take another $20 to $30 billion to ensure that all Singaporeans can be properly protected and taken care of – only a tiny fraction of the billions and trillions that the government has stashed away, yet the government would rather let Singaporeans suffer but would shower themselves with the highest salaries in the world.

The Singapore Government Falls Short on Every Count and Does Not Protect Singaporeans

Of course, Singaporeans are not demanding free services across the board, but where countries with a similar level of national wealth would spend between 70 and 85 percent on health, provide free education and heavily subsidised childcare education, as well as to subsidise half of transport fares, Singapore falls severely short.

The Singapore government only subsidises 30 percent for healthcare. But in Norway where the national wealth and cost of living is similar to Singapore, a Norwegian only needs to pay a cap of $400 every year for healthcare. There is no cap for Singaporeans and medical bills can go up to the tens of thousands. The people in Hong Kong only pay a cap of $20 per day for inpatient care and treatment.

Also, Singaporeans have to pay the most expensive university tuition fees in the world while for other countries with a similar of national wealth such as in the Nordic countries and Germany, university education is free.

Singaporeans also possibly pay the most expensive childcare fees – Singaporeans pay an average of $951 every month for childcare while Norwegians only need to pay a cap of $430.

Singaporeans pay enough in transport fares to fully subsidise the transport operators and also pay for the most expensive public housing in the world, all these coming out of one of the lowest wages and lowest purchasing power among the developed countries.

This is not forgetting that Singapore is also the most expensive country in the world to buy a car, so for families with children in tow who need a convenient form of transport, they can forget about it.

Now, mind you, the Norwegians earn a minimum wage of five times that of Singaporeans and a median wage of more than twice as high, yet they only need pay a cap for healthcare and childcare and are able to go to university for free. You do not even have to do the maths to realise that Singaporeans are forced to earn meager wages to pay overly-exorbitant prices.

It is modern-day slavery.

The Singapore Government Would Rather Hide the Problems and Benefit Themselves

The PAP government might do its darnedest to pretend and hide this knowledge – to the extent of artificially reducing the income inequality statistics across the years over subsequent annual reports and to remove the wage distribution statistic from the CPF Annual Report.

Gini Coefficient 2008 vs 2010 vs 2013

But removing or fudging the statistics does not mean the problem will go away.

In fact, the PAP government’s actions is aimed only at preventing Singaporeans from knowing the full extent of the problem, so that they can continue to perpetuate their model of marginalising the lives of Singaporeans.

Where the government has more than enough money to ensure that social protection expenditure increases to take care of Singaporeans, it is despicable when the government continuously refuses to do so, claiming that this will reduce the country’s reserves when it already spends the lowest in social protection among the developing countries – only 3.5 percent of GDP (In comparison, Norway spends 22.9 percent), while at the same time justifying their salaries to sky-high levels so that they can afford their several bungalows and private property, while Singaporeans live in ever-decreasing flat sizes since 1994.

The hypocrisy of the PAP government knows no bounds and it is beyond deceit and conceit.

The social problems are massive – because of having the highest income inequality among the developed countries, Singapore also has the highest prisoner rate, the lowest levels of trust, one of the lowest social mobilities and Singaporeans also have the highest rate of self-enhancement, or a sense of seeing oneself as better than others.

This is the Singapore Model

In a nutshell, this is the Singapore model – restrict the freedom of speech and oppress the people so that you can grow the economy, hell bent on making sure that only you benefit from it so that you can pay yourself the highest salaries in the world (including your cronies). Meanwhile, depress wages and increase prices across the board, since you own all the companies, and earn the highest profits in the world off the people.

Then take the people’s wages and with whatever is left of it, make them pay it into what was a retirement fund but is now really a holding vault for you to siphon the money away to invest and earn money for yourself. At the same time, also siphon off the people’s money into the public housing which you control as well, make the nearly 90 percent of them who are not your cronynies stay in these flats and siphon even more money away from them by jacking up the housing prices. And make-believe to them that they own the homes they buy, which you will take back at low cost, so that they will lose even more money.

It is a sure win for you if you operate on the Singapore model – the economy grows on slave wages while you continue to siphon off the wealth for yourself.

But this comes with a whole host of psychosocial problems – possibly the highest rate of mental problems and suicide rates that go under-reported, and a ruptured society where Singaporeans have become the second least likely to help a stranger in the world, have one of the lowest levels of happiness and have learnt to repress our emotions, being the most emotionless people in the world, since we are not allowed to express ourselves anyway.

And a country on the brink of collapse, but in massive denial of it.

Countries which collude with the ‘Singapore Model’ know full well that by partaking in this model that the economy might look like it can grow but this is at the expense of the large majority of their populations who have to work on suppressed wages, only so that profits and the salaries of the rich can grow. To champion the ‘Singapore Model’, yet knowing full well what its pitfalls and social degenerative effects are, smacks of hypocrisy, especially when promoted or tolerated by international organisations which claim to work in the interests of the world.

Here are the Solutions to Improve the Lives of Singaporeans

Solutions? Plenty. And easy.

Indeed, hundreds of academics and civil society individuals have already voiced out on them over the past few decades, only to be ignored or slammed down by the government.

For a start, define a poverty line, implement minimum wage to that level or a combination of minimum wage, and subsidies for those who fall below the poverty line.

Increase wages for the low- and middle-income, pretty much like what Professor Lim Chong Yah had recommended, reduce rents to ensure companies have the breathing space to adjust around for costs– moreover, a study has shown that a 10 percent increase in wages will only result in a 4 percent increase in food prices and a 0.4 percent increase in general prices.

Purchasing power will increase.

Higher wages have also been associated with higher employment and higher productivity, increased consumer spending and higher profits for businesses – in the end, higher economic growth.

Increase health subsidies – in fact, follow the wisdom of countries where patients need only pay a cap on healthcare every year. A healthy population is a more productive one.

And if we truly believe in the education and investment of our people, provide free education at all levels.

Housing prices pegged to the purchasing abilities of the people and should not rise over and above the increase in their wages, as in Germany’s case.

Reduce work hours.

And return the interest of 6 percent earned on Singaporeans’ CPF back to them.

What will we get?

A less stressed out population which will be more committed and motivated at work.

Productivity will increase, Singaporeans will become happier, fertility rate will increase, more babies, and a society which will be strengthened, where a common purpose will develop.

And once again, Singaporeans will understand what it means to be proud to be Singaporean – something that we no longer understand today.

So, do we know the problems? Yes, we do.

Are there solutions? Yes, there are.

But is there political will to implement these solutions to better Singapore?

No.

Unfortunately, as long as Singapore remains under the rule of the PAP, things will not change. The PAP has mandated since 1982 that their priority is on “self-reliance”, having changed their manifesto from achieving “equality” to one where its focus is to reduce its assistance on Singaporeans and to push them to rely on themselves, dead or trying.

The PAP Does Not Care about Singaporeans, Will You Believe It?

Thus it is not that Singaporeans’ lives are better off. Neither is it because the Singapore government has run the country well.

Instead, as compared to the other developed countries, Singaporeans are treated the most inhumanely by their government and some would argue to be even worse than other developing countries.

The Singapore government also prevents Singaporeans from speaking up against such mistreatment by curbing their rights to speak up against the government’s atrocities.

To that end, they have used the law to prohibit any dissent from preventing Singaporeans from being able to do so.

Meanwhile, the PAP would shower itself in massive salary growths that outstrips that of ordinary Singaporeans and would lament Singaporeans’ lack of effort in trying to better themselves, when it was never the PAP’s interest to create an environment that will be conducive for Singaporeans to do so in the first place.

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In the end, the PAP government’s priority is not to take care of Singaporeans. It is clear from their marginalisation of Singaporeans and by the policies that they have concocted to trap Singaporeans that their intention is to earn from Singaporeans at every step of the way.

There is no other way to say this – the PAP does not care about Singaporeans and if Singaporeans continue to blindly believe in the PAP because we believe that there is no other option, then we have given up on our lives and are putting not only our lives, but our children’s lives at risk and in danger as well.

The Only Solution – Vote the PAP Out

For me, the solution in Singapore is clear. For a start, I would put in a weak government where Singaporeans will finally be able to regain our power and strength. When that happens, demand that the new government act on the solutions that the thinks tanks, academics, civil society and ordinary Singaporeans like you and I have been championing for, for the past several decades – solutions that have been thoroughly researched on, to improve the lives of Singaporeans.

The whole crap about how the opposition is not strong enough to run the country and how the country will collapse – all a fallacy.

There are tens of thousands of people in the civil service who will be able to act on these solutions and bring hope to Singaporeans. Tens and thousands of Singaporeans running the essential services that you use.

If we are only going to get 90 puppets in government now anyway, then we might as well make sure these puppets count. I would put in at least two-third of the government as opposition members, so that for once, Singaporeans will finally have a chance.

What you want is not a government that has all the power that it can decide what to do with your lives at its whims and fancies.

What you want is a weak government, or rather, a new government that would listen to you and is independent of the other estates of governance – civil service, judiciary, media, labour unions, academia, etc, so that these institutions will work separately and together, to uplift the people in the society.

What you want is a government with a heart, and a society which will also learn to nurture its own heart.

So, this is my parting remark to you – we either stand up and fight or we go down without ever putting up a fight. When the time comes that Singapore eventually breaks on the seams, we will only have ourselves to question – why didn’t we ever take that step?

It is up to Singaporeans now to be willing to admit to the state of their lives, so that we will take the affirmative action to change things. However, if Singaporeans continue to live as willing victims under the current ruling party PAP’s repressive rule and policies, then Singaporeans would have to brace ourselves for the collapse that will ensue, as all unequal societies in history have faced. Then, the question would be whether Singaporeans would have the resilience and strength to overcome such an event.

But where Singaporeans have shrunk from standing up in these times of oppression, the ability of Singaporeans to act when required is now being called into question.

So, there you have it – problems, solutions and how to do it all in this article. The question is, what would you do?

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156 comments

  1. Baby Roy

    Dear Roy Boy Boy, (i guess it tells a lot from the picture of you sucking milk bottle when it looks to me you’re already 3 or 4 years old)

    STOP being a BABY will you?

    Re: ” The PAP has mandated since 1982 that their priority is on “self-reliance”, having changed their manifesto from achieving “equality” to one where its focus is to reduce its assistance on Singaporeans and to push them to rely on themselves, dead or trying.”

    Have you ever had the emotional maturity and mental forethought to consider what a country will become if it becomes a social welfare republic? No, clearly not.

    • Luke

      Reducing thousands of words and multiple examples with quantified data of the wealth inequality in Singapore in comparison to the world, to three words “self-reliance” versus “equality” .. and belittling the argument by attacking the person. Thanks for the mature, well argued and thoughtful response. Continue to work hard, consume, don’t question (don’t date question) and die. Your comments are worthless.

    • someone

      There is no such thing as utopia. Trying to find the balance between a welfare state and a purely capitalist one is hard. Welfare states have people just leeching off the government, and (almost) purely capitalist states have the above mentioned problems. Trying to create “ideal” societies is impossible because each person has a different ideal. Go read The Giver by Lois Lowry or The Dispossesed by Ursula K. Le Guin. Some of the concerns you have raised are true, but they are only valid in a certain point of view. Your writing is not objective, and carries a certain prejudice to it. What the people need here is an evaluation on the government, not a piece of anti-government propaganda. You are influencing people to become like you, set strongly against the PAP, without a fair evaluation of them. Stop whining about the flaws in society, every society has some.

    • woox3rpt

      It would be nice if that was true but with so much limiting of Singaporeans personal freedom is quite hard to see how it would be possible for people to properly practice self-reliance.

    • ADAM

      Singapore our country its here that we belong. All of us united one pap marching on. We have done so far together lets move forward…

    • Luke

      Mike, congratulations! What an amazing solution to the wealth inequality and lack of freedom and democracy in Singapore. You are a genius!

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    • Luke

      Since the people above, Mike and the gutless Baby Roy cannot argue with the facts and cannot refute the data, they instead attack the person. The typo above was “don’t DARE question”.

      • CK

        Do you know how easy it is to lie with data? Especially his? Notice some of the charts Hong Kong is conveniently absent. Where is HK in that? And because of its small size of course in terms of percentage data is skewed. Use some brains, luke.

      • X

        You actually think those are his charts? How stupid can you be? It is impossible for one person to collate those data alone. You can ask him to quote his sources yes, but to straightaway call someone a liar? By default I will never vote the same way with people like you

  4. Shahid Sparklyman

    I recently wrote an article regarding the ban of shisha, and it too recieved much flak from singaporeans who told me not to question. I absolutely love your style of writing and the way you present your facts, truly a champion for the people. Wait i take that back, we are all the champions we need to be, and people like you do the great public service of opening the eyes of ignorant singaporeans, and i thank you for this. Im only 18 and im on the ISD watchlist for speaking out against the government. What has this country become? And when will it break? Thank you for the article :3

    • Curious Cat

      Yea I agree with you! This article is truly what Singapore needs to get that slap of reality in their faces. Thanks for putting so much effort into this, it’s really admirable.

  5. Matt

    If you have ever travelled abroad, examined the unique circumstances of Singapore, you will know why we are billed as a wonder in the 21st century. You will know why socialist polices will cause the downfall of the only pure city-state in the world.

    This city thrives as a metropolis, remains independent, draws talent from around the region and is not the fishing village of yesteryear because of the artificially constructed system put in place here. The very tools you rely on – statistics showing Singapore’s income inequality, lack of minimum wage, high salaries for government officials and low public expenditure on healthcare – show exactly why Singapore is thriving (or surviving) 50 years after independence from Great Britain and the Federation of Malaya. Singapore succeeds because it confronts the brutal truths of economics and human nature. A socialist system, like the one you dream of Singapore having one day, removes the city of its only competitive advantage in the world today: an efficient system in cadence with Darwinian theories. Travel, and your eyes see – what a marvellous wonder the Government has designed in Singapore. Visit Europe and you see lands ravaged by the financial crisis. Go to the States and see how public infrastructure breaks down. Venture to Hong Kong and witness what population density REALLY means. Go around the world (or simply, LOOK around the region) and see energy in the emerging markets – they frighten you because you think, “What will happen to Singapore if they build up?” Socialist policies are populist and cost a great deal of money. Anyone who studied Political Science will tell you this – the masses, contrary to their belief, do not always know what is good for them. We need rational decisions driven by logic. Not the appeals to emotion that you’ve consistently relied on.

    It will not be the Government that brings Singapore to break at the seams. It will be individuals like you, who stir up political waves and drive the multinational corporations out. It will be people like you, who fail to see what Singapore has given you, who will cause Singapore to descend into the Third World. Check how the Government is selected in Singapore. It is based not on cronyism or favouritisim. It is a machine constantly picking the brightest minds who have gone abroad to know what Singapore needs to survive in today’s world – a world faced with too many winds of change.

    Notice how the elderly hardly complain against the Government? Because they have tasted real hardship in their youth, and saw how Singapore grew to be the modern city it is today. The youths of today have not. They travel not. They read not. They see not. For if they did, they will contribute to constructive discourse that can improve the Government policies. It will be an objective assessment of their policies and statistics. Not the one-sided story that you constantly seek to paint. If you actually analyse things on both ends, you may actually get some respect or support. But now, now – you’re just sounding like a whiny bully. Stop playing the pity card.

    • Anon

      All I can say is it’s easier to whine and complain rather than do something about it. I fear for our country as idiots like Roy try to stir dissent into our nation.

    • X

      I will give you one better. Work in a first world country and you will never return. Notice the naming and shaming of bond breakers have gone? Think deep and you will realise why

    • Hua En

      This is a brilliant comment, and directly counters this antagonistic article. The very reason why Singapore is in this state is the very reason for its success.

  6. thecitizen

    Having come here in hopes of enlightenment in terms of the ruling party’s means, I must admit I am far from that. Instead, I am very disappointed.
    1. Writing with an apparent lack of an objective point of view is proof of your inadequacies. Your judgement clouds your thinking, and that is dangerous, especially for someone who has gained popularity due to the case of defamation against the prime minister.
    2. Statistics are factually unsound. Look at your blog polls, for example. Are they reflective of our society’s thoughts? As of today, close to 500 have voted against PAP, in comparison to the mere 100 to 200 who have voted for. Given the premises of your blog, I would expect those unhappy with the government to frequent your blog. They are definitely not reflective of the percentage of our population that has voted for the ruling party in recent years. Statistics used in your blog are clearly meant to work towards your advantage. If you were advocating for the rights of Singaporeans, as novel an idea as you put it, you would have chosen statistics with legitimate premises. Surveys conducted with transparent factors and with limitations that are easily available to the public.
    3. Clearly, your idea of an ideal society is flawed. And I do not say so without evidence. As lacking as PAP has been in the passing of certain policies that may not have suited your taste, you fail to acknowledge the work that they have put in to place Singapore in the position she is in today. How many political parties have been able to ultimately transform Singapore into what she is today, in merely 50 years in rule?
    What your blog reflects is easily summed up in two words: Nada. Nothing.
    As I have mentioned previously: as novel an idea it is to be thought of as a voice for Singaporeans who feel that they have been monopolized by the government, you clearly need to up your standards.
    With that, I wish you all the best for your future endeavors.

    • X

      There is no ideal society. This is a compare and contrast article. I don’t even know where you out that one out of. 50 years of uncivilised people who got rich means nothing. Continuing to admire past triumphs are signs of a regressive person. Past achievements mean nothing if you cannot see the future. You speak like a decrepit old man long for past days of glory. Wake up and smell the coffee

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  9. Thierry

    Honestly this is such a biased article with carefully selected stats – basically a whole load of rubbish – it’s not even worth my time debating the individual points. As many people above already pointed out, it sounds like someone needs to get an education and experience what’s life is like in other countries. i’m from hong kong and spent many years in the UK – singapore beats both of them by a country mile. if you hate it so much then just leave

    • X

      You are correct. Every article is inherently biased. But he puts in charts and work. You only mouth off. So it’s not worth anyone’s time to argue with a hongkie, the modern day sweat shop

      • FuckedOffHappily

        Hahahahhaah so funny hahahahh
        Are you serious? Look hun, I’m a Singaporean, born and raised, who has flown the coop (acquired a PR of a developed country through my spouse). First, Singapore’s economy is most reliant on manufacturing, you did not know that? Did you know that Singapore economy BIGGEST SECTOR is manufacturing?! Hong Kong has stopped relying on manufacturing decades ago you fuckfaced moron. Look at this chart http://www.singstat.gov.sg/statistics/visualising-data/charts/share-of-gdp-by-industry
        Singapore manufacturing takes up THE LION’S SHARE that’s the reason you losers need to import all the trash from Myanmar, Vietnam and filthy Filipinos..whereas Hong Kong biggest sectors are Trading & Logistics (24%) and Financial Services (16.5%) Hahahhahaha..In fact Hong Kong no longer does any manufacturing so I think its super funny how you call Hong Kies simi lan modern day sweatshop when its Sinkapore that is the sweatshop and the worst thing is you are a sweatshop with fried up real estate, fried up to the prices of London when you have neither the economic prowess and financial clout as a financial hub of HongKong or London. LOL What a disgrace.

        Fucking usual ignorant fool from Sinkapore who knows nothing and makes a big fool of themselves mouthing off nationalistic BS online. LOL. Like that moron up there who believes with all his heart that Singapore is the second best place to be born worldwide. HAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHA its so funny AHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHH
        Fuckin loser who must have never been anywhere outside a tiny bumfuck island.

  10. 1S'poreanLivinOverseas

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/10/worlds-richest-economies
    Also according to the economist, in 2014 Singapore has the second highest
    PER-PERSON GDP and Purchasing Power Parity in the world. So regardless of how much better some Singaporeans do than others, and for whatever reason, Every-single Singaporean is better off than their counter-part
    from any place elsewhere in the world (except Luxembourg). regardless of the opinions of spiteful youth, Singapore’s model has worked incredibly well for it’s citizens and Singaporeans, as a result, enjoy more privileges than anyone from anywhere else in the world. Of course when spoiled, people never see how good they have it.
    The problem is, Singapore was built on the sweat and hard-work of the
    baby-boomers and Generation X. Generation Y and whatever is next had it so easy as a result that they don’t respect the work their elders put in to make Our country so great. Really easy for a spiteful kid with a
    maid and well-off parents like “Roy Ngern” to complain and form imaginative interpretations of statistics, and then it’s almost just as easy for them to write an article about it.
    Roy’s interpretation of what is going on in Hong Kong is very skewed. The Hong Kong people are protesting a move by Beijing that would take Hong Kong further from the Values that make Singapore what it is. The Hong Kong people WANT Hong Kong to remain more like Singapore, and that’s not what Beijing is allowing. The Hong Kong people wish to remain democratic and Capitalist, NOT COMMUNIST. This exactly what Singapore stands for as well.
    No government or economic system is perfect, but Singapore’s is about as about as close as you can get.
    We need not look further than prime-time news to see how discontent Americans are with their government, or the Greeks, or the French. Anyone for that matter. Social Media is powerful, and it gives new voices to well-intentioned but inexperienced individuals who don’t immediately understand the long-term ramifications of their actions.
    The Arab Spring, for example. Well-intentioned for sure, but as a long-term result of this peaceful and political/economic/human-rights based movement how many thousands of Innocent people have now been killed in Syria, Irag, Libya, and elsewhere in the world where violence in the middle-east has inspired terrorist attacks in Africa, Canada, and around the world.
    People want to blame Assad for this, and surely neither his initial actions, nor his response were appropriate, but the public’s approach was wrong as well. Prior to the Arab Spring, Syrians enjoyed some of the most lenient laws in the arab-world and had a significantly higher-than average standard of living. Thanks to the misuse of social-media (the true culprit, no body wants to see) as opposed to proper official channels, and open-dialogue with persons in authority, advocating a pro-active and mutually beneficial approach for all parties, This beautiful country has been destroyed and it’s people slaughtered or enslaved.
    BE VERY CAREFUL WITH IRRESPONSIBLE USE OF THE INTERNET, IT CAN KILL.
    And yes, To save millions of lives and preserve culture as well as infrastructure and shared prosperity, it is absolutely acceptable for the Singapore government to take a pro-active stance against spreading anti-state propaganda. If they do watch over these posts, good for them.
    Singapore, like any country, still has much it can improve on, but in order for those improvements to take place, we must focus the minds of our up-and-coming generations towards this positive dialogue and work with the government and not take the easy and unrespectable way-out by complaining and only bringing up things we are discontent with. The young minds of today are tomorrows leaders. Do we want lazy complainers to lead our nation, or pro-active intelligent individuals who are engaged with their citizens? With the right attitude, any of us could be these leaders and see whatever change we can dream of. if not us, maybe the friends we keep will, and if nothing else, a positive attitude will be heard by those who do become leaders long before they pay attention to people with nothing positive to say.

    I Think Roy’s little thing about scholarships proves just how better-off Singaporeans are. Clearly students from overseas CANNOT afford to study in Singapore without scholarships because of their socioeconomic standing from wherever they come from. This is why they are more eligible to receive financial aid. In contrast, only 6% of Singaporean students in Singaporean Universities qualify because the majority who do not are obviously better-off. Roy’s used a lot of interesting and potentially useful graphics and statistics (if they can be verified, he hasn’t provided any proper MLA citations), he just doesn’t have a clue how to interpret them, or what they actually mean.

    Actually, he ought to be sued for plagiarism and libel having not properly cited his sources and then misrepresenting the data in them and skewing it for his own purpose. This fellow is not a concerned citizen, he is selfish and attention-seeking.

    CW. “China No More.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 16 Oct. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.

    • X

      BE VERY CAREFUL WITH IRRESPONSIBLE USE OF THE INTERNET, IT CAN KILL.
      This comment alone invalidates your wall of text and any claims of education

    • cotes

      Non Singaporean at helm trying to leach off the nation.
      Roy, don’t give any feedback. Don’t give solutions.
      Let things remain. Give them a surprise.
      They really know nuts.
      Everything is really run by others, Ul
      They only know shooting
      and scamming

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  12. i like history

    Just a little of my opinion, I believe that the situation of low income to GDP ratio cannot be realistically improved. This is inherent in the nature of Singapore’s (as well as HK) economy. We function as a service centre that is orientated towards the Southeast Asian region by providing trans-shipment, financial and trading services by virtue of our geography and the relative efficiency of our legal and administrative apparatus compared to the rest of the region. Take finance for example, we serve as a financial centre of Southeast Asia because of the fact that there is huge demand for financial services (IPO, wealth management etc) by the corporations and the high net wealth individuals hailing from the relatively corrupt and inefficient countries around us. We serve as a gaming centre because of the huge demand for gambling coming from the nouveau riche of Indonesia and China. We are the regional headquarters for many MNCs because of our good geography, transparent laws, tax rate and English speaking workers. Because of these factors that have been present since British times, it is the logical path for the country to develop. Notice how the different politcal system and economic ideology of HK has produced almost the exact same outcome as Singapore; Finance, shipping and Gambling (alright, it’s Macau) centre for greater China.
    These activites generate large GDP figures but ultimately the bulk does not flow down into the pockets of the average citizen. Majority of the companies operating in Singapore in Finance, shipping and others housed in our CBD or the Jurong area are foreign owned. They enjoy tax rebates that were used to entice them here and repatriate their profits back to their home countries. Large domestic companies, barring a few like Keppel are mostly involved in government controlled rent seeking industries such as real-estate. The average Singaporean workers aren’t involved in the higher management or the value added research. So we often see situations where MNCs/Banks airdrop their expats from the homeland to high positions in Singapore while Singaporeans have to work much harder and longer to attain the same. Those working in manufacturing are more of technician level jobs, hardly any cutting edge tech goes on in Singaproe. Ultimately our economy is dominated by foreign firms and despite what they say, capital does have nationalities.
    The challenges of a citystate such as ours lies in the fact that we are destined for prosperity as long as the govenment does not screw up too badly, but we also do not have much of a choice on how we can achieve such prosperity. The lack of a large domestic market means that we are unable to develop a strong indigenous manufacturing sector by protectionism ala Japan, Korea and Taiwan or emulate the startup success of Silicon valley. The question is what lies in the future. Our econmic indicators closely tracked that of HK’s until the early 2000s when we diverged and is now almost $20000 higher. It was around this time that the port throughput of Shanghai and Shenzhen started to overtake HK signalling the beginning of an end to HK’s position as a shipping centre. Its future is even bleaker as China slowly moves to liberise its finance market.
    That being said, like what you suggested, improvements can and should be made towards better welfare for the downtrodden such as minimum wage. But I’m not so optimistic that much can be done to improve our purchasing power, income and especially inequality given the nature of how our economy works.

  13. X

    Look at the countless plants sprouting rubbish. Warning you that the INTERNET is the devil ! If the people on the internet are devils what are you doing here? Get lost. Go back to reading propaganda

    Glory days gone by.
    Any country that cannot do better than our neighbours is no first world. We surpassed them YEARS ago. Look forward not back. You sound like old war vets. The war is over. We won. Stop talking about it over and over argh.

    GDP lies.
    Well America just added prostitution and drugs to pump GDP figures. We should do that too. Then magically every Singaporean is doing better. Forget the truth, only numbers matter.

    Opinions from lousy countries
    What did anyone expect frankly? They will say their country is better? What is the value of publishing their statements? Yes your country is a dump. It’s no secret. Nothing to do with us improving our lives.

    For the open minded, you may disagree with someone , but please educate yourself more. That’s the point of debate and discussion. These idiots will only destroy any hopes of creating a well informed, contemplative society

  14. teoenming

    Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Want Teo En Ming Dead

    Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong want Teo En Ming dead. Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong want Teo En Ming to die young.

    Teo En Ming filed an official complaint against the Singapore Government at the United Nations Human Rights Council Branch and the International Criminal Court. Read the letter here:

    Teo En Ming’s Open Letter (Plea for Medical Help/Assistance) to World Leaders. Read the letter here:

    http://lists.mcs.anl.gov/pipermail/mpich-discuss/2010-August/007811.html

    Mr. Teo En Ming (Zhang Enming)
    Singapore Citizen
    22 December 2014

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  16. PG

    Have to correct one point , Germany does NOT have a minimum wage , and has like SIngapore excessive numbers of foreign workers .

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  26. Chun Heng

    Actually, a lot of the taxes goes to Singapore savings,yeah, but this means in case there is mass poverty in the world SG wiĺ be prepared. Also, the money goes to the younger generation, with the citizens only having to pay less than $20 for a month.

  27. Marlena

    Then has Singapore ever thought of introducing Euthanasia? Seriously medical bills are rising and not everyone can afford to pay. Those with chronic illness or those financially weak what are they suppose to do?

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