Singapore a bed of roses?

Mellanie Hewlitt
Singapore Review
6 March 2005

The Straits Times will have you believe that life is a bed of roses for the average Singaporean. And Singapore’s propaganda machine is working overtime this year to spin the good news on the good life as it is a election year.

But we lift the veil and reveal some of the harsh realities which are
conveniently overlooked by Singapore’s million dollar ministers.

The figures reveal that the average Singaporean is a far from happy creature and is afflicted by a host of social-economic ailments ranging from

a) Escalating Costs of Living
b) Insufficient Savings For Retirement
c) Unemployment Concerns
d) Shrinking Real Income
f) Marital Blues and declining Birth Rates
g) Mounting Work Pressure, long work hours
h) Mounting academic pressure
i) An Unforgiving academic and work culture which places a premium on
qualifications over actual performance
j) Competition from Foreign Talent
k) Bureaucratic Government Policies

The list goes on. Small wonder that suicides rates are on the rise.

But according to previous “figures” released by the Singapore Government last year (2003), Singapore workers were better paid then their US, UK and Australian counterparts.

Life is also supposed to be rosy here in Singapore and Singaporeans
should be grateful for the safe and comfortable environment provided by the local government.

But if Life in this “Wonderland with the Death Penalty” is so good;

1) Why is disposable income (and CPF rates) falling?
2) Why are more and more people leaving?
3) Why are the birth rates falling?
4) Why are suicide rates on the rise?
5) Why are unemployment rates on the rise?
6) Why are daily living costs escalating?
7) Why is there the emergence of the “educated poor” as a new social class?


The silence is deafening.

Peering beyond the smoke and mirrors which are part and parcel
official government press releases to the public, the harsh reality confronted by the average Singaporean is that shrinking incomes, escalating living costs and 12-15 hour work days have taken their inevitable toll on personal happiness and emotional well-being. All is not well in Singapore and this is an ugly truth that the Singapore Government is not anxious to accept or confront.

Some where along the lines, the “Directors” of Singapore Inc have
implemented grand plans to sell Singapore Inc to the world, but have
conveniently forgotten to include in their sensitivities the fact that
employees are flesh and blood and cannot work 24 hours a day. Even Duracell batteries need time to recharge, and human beings are no different in this respect.

To make matters worse, the “Top Brass” of Singapore Inc continue to receive hefty salaries even when the company itself announced a dismal 0.8% annual growth rate. This begets the looming question whether a director who takes home approx SGD100,000 per month (or SGD1.2 million a year) can ever understand and relate to the plight of an employee who takes home SGD3,000 a month on average.

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