(letter posted in Delphi Website Forum)
The time has come for the Singapore regime to pull its head out of the sand and see the situation on the ground.
The city state has become too expensive. It just cannot compete. MNCs are leaving the place and moving over to Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. Job losses and unemployment are at record levels.
Yet its leaders are doing nothing except make cosmetic adjustments and giving lip service about increasing productivity, worker skill upgrade and innovations. All of these sound fine, when you earn a million over dollars in salary which insulate you from ground reality.
It is not just the MNCs alone who are vacating Singapore. Even for small businessess and individuals, going over to JB in Malaysia for their needs is an attractive option. People are going there for services like hair cuts, car painting and repair, to buy furniture, window curtains, paint, hardware, petrol, medicines etc. Even fast food like pizza, KFC and McDonalds are over fifty percent cheaper over there than in Singapore.
The funny thing is, the Malaysian currency , the Ringiit, which is 2.2 times lower than the so called ‘high value’ Singapore dollar, can buy much more goods and services in Malaysia than what the Singapore dollar can fetch in Singapore. In some cases the differential is more than double in terms of goods and services.
Singapore lost its competitivenes a long time ago. Everyone seems to know it. From the man in the street to the financial analyst sitting in his office in Shenton way Except the government which is still living in a state of self denial and fools’ paradise. Whereas the countries in the region have started on the recovery path, like Korea, Thailand and Malaysia, the regime leaders of Singapore are going about mouthing self praises about themselves and how their economy ‘withstood’ the Asian financial crisis, and came out relatively well all due to their sound financial management and system in place. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The Stock market has been dead for the past five years. The living death of SGX started in 1999, much after the Asian financial crisis set in. Everyone knows that the SGX index is being artificially propped up by inflating a dozen blue chip counters. The other stocks, more than 90 percent of those listed on the SGX are worth less than half their value of 1999. It has been like that for more than three years. The daily trading volume on th SGX is pathetic. The property market is crumbling, losing more than 40 percent in value. The financial sector is almost dead.
Unfortunately,the regime will never pull its head out and see the gound. Look at the new MPs and see how they are working “no stones unturned” I don’t think so, it’s more like stepping over the stones.
GDP figures are put up for us to believe, how are these figures derived etc, anyway it’s a SPH paper with a ISD man running the show. With a projection of 4-5.9% projected over the next decade….it’s going to be like this. Rightly said, it’s going to be too expensive to “run” this country,except for the highly paid civil servants. The GLCs will report increases but these will be short term because everything will go against them, local companies would have moved out by then ,what is stopping companies from sourcing from China, India, and even Indonesia if they get their act together etc.
This is already happening as everyone knows it. We are going to have only very short term growth, at the most 1-2 years and after this its going to be like a constipated growth.
The government knows this, because “unreported figures” do not lie as opposed to published figures which are made to give a “rosy” picture.With Singapore dropping 1 notch in the competitiveness level, this has great implications, basically too expensive a place to do business, etc.
My bet is nothing will be done and at most minimum and lip service. It is sickening to hear of all these committees being formed but where is the report, direction. I’m quite sure it is quite harmless to publish the suggestions from these committees. Give us a big picture.
The biosciences will at most make a little dent to the growth figures in the coming years. There won’t be many major infrastructure in the coming years, so building and engineering, manufacturing will definitely go down. Look at the army camps development around the island, already nearly completion or half way.HDB is in the dumps. The minister forgot to mention that the flats are expensive so that’s why there is a surplus!
Singapore will be the only Asian country going the road of Japan, perpetual slump!