The media in Singapore sank to a new low. In the 2007 Freedom of the Press Survey conducted by Freedom House, Straits Times’ and colleagues’ international ranking dropped from 146th to 154th, alongside Afghanistan, Djibouti, and Gabon.
In 1990 there were 88,000 cases seeking help of mental professionals. This figure escalated to 147,000 in 1998. In 1990 only 8.4% of Singaporeans suffered from neurotic disorders such as anxiety and depression. In 1998 16.6% succumbed to these disorders. This problem continues as more people are being diagnosed with mental disorders due to financial woes.
In 1999, nearly 2,000 children did not attend school because their parents could not afford it. The estimate was greater for the recent years.
A PriceWaterHouseCoopers report in 2006 found that the “average Singapore household is one of the most indebted in the world.” At 174% of the personal disposable income, the household debt in Singapore surpasses that of even Britain (116%), Japan (100%) and the United States (90%).
In Nov 2003, Mrs Lee Kuan Yew suffered a stroke in London, the Minister Mentor called Singapore Airlines to fly his wife home within 48 hours. The airline converted the plane into a flying hospital replete with doctors, nurses and airline officials and promptly whisked Mrs Lee back to Singapore.
In 2006, a nurse was prosecuted for wrongly administering a drug to an elderly resident in a welfare home which resulted in his death. The coroner, however, came to her defence because she was single-handedly looking after 180 patients.
In a survey done by ChannelNewsAsia in 2007, more than 50% young Singaporeans revealed that they wanted to migrate and live in another country! In fact 37% of the respondents said they were not patriotic.
In 1993, 22,000 Singaporeans over the age 65 continued to work for a living. By 2003, 10 years later, the number swelled to more than 35,000, a jump of 57%.
Ah Loh, a widower, earns his keeps sometimes by carrying coffins and sometimes by hauling fish. His monthly earnings? $400—on a good month. His elderly mother takes care of his children in a cramped, squalid flat.
Ministers should not be expected to make “unreasonable financial sacrifices.”
(Lee Hsien Loong, justifying hiking his pay to $3.1 million a year.)