Laughing all the way back to the kampung

Jufrie Mahmood

A typical Singapore citizen enters the working world in his late teens or early twenties. And, for males, if he chooses to further his studies after completing his National Service he would start earning his keep in his mid-20s.

He may decide to tie the knot in his late 20s or early 30s. He and spouse would probably have bought a roof over their heads – which would have been fully paid for way before retirement, have children and look forward to retirement when he reaches the age of 60 or thereabouts.



This was the Singapore story not too long ago. The situation is much different today. Those of you buying a flat today will be unable to pay off your housing loan even in 30 years. The cost of housing yourself and your family has become too expensive.

One reason for this is the influx of foreigners (which has also caused wages to be suppressed). The policy to allow them to purchase HDB apartments once they are made permanent residents, or PR, is flawed. And because the PAP has made it so easy for foreigners to become Prs, they have inadvertently pushed up the price of the flats.

In a knee jerk response to citizens’ wrath the HDB, through its minister, began announcing measures to increase the supply of flats, which in any case would take a few years to come on stream. A clear case of too little, too late.

The reality is that Singaporeans will have to keep paying for their flats throughout their entire working life with nothing much to look forward to on their retirement. That is, if they are lucky enough to afford a retirement.

Now compare the lot of citizens with that of the PRs.

In our walkabout and house-to-house visits we met with quite a number of Malaysians who have taken up permanent residency in Singapore. Most were living in four-room flats.

When asked why they remained PRs and not take up citizenship in Singapore, they revealed their master plan in a matter of fact manner.

“Why would we take up Singapore citizenship?” they said. “Singapore is too expensive a place for one to retire. Once we have made enough we would give up our PR status, sell our flats and
balik kampung (go home).”

We couldn’t help but think that they were laughing at us.

If they had been here for 20 years or so, their flats would fetch them more than $300,000 if they sold them today and
balik kampung. And they need not put aside the $125,000 minimum sum in their CPF accounts required of Singaporeans.

In other words, they would be laughing all the way to the bank.

At today’s rate they would have RM720,000 to take home. They may even have some cash in their CPF account to draw on too. In Malaysia, RM250,000 would get them a very comfortable freehold bungalow.

It would indeed be a blissful retirement. And because the kampung house is freehold their children and grandchildren can inherit the property. We can’t do this in Singapore because we are only leasees and have to return our flats to the HDB after 99 years.

balik kampung mentality is also prevalent among other recent migrants. In particular, the Indians who are PRs also don’t want to take up citizenship despite offers from the authorities.

The majority of them use Singapore as a stepping-stone to emigrate to other countries like Australia, New Zealand, US, etc. Ultimately, they also think of retiring back home in India – and in style with a posh house and money to spare.

As a matter of fact there is nothing to stop those who have taken up citizenship to renounce it and also
balik kampung. Either that or migrate to some other greener pastures.

Do you still think that you have a better life and owe the PAP a debt of gratitude? Singaporeans first, huh?

Jufrie Mahmood is a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Singapore Democratic Party.

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