A note to my government…

July 3, 2002
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

This letter is taken from a contributor to the New Sintercom website. http://forums.delphiforums.com/sintercom/messages?msg=592.1

Singaporeans are constantly reminded that it is their great fortune that they are Singaporeans.. we have the best of everything.. ie .. if you read the Straits Times.. the best airport, port etc..and the best government.. for the masses, things here must be a living paradise.. Lets take another look..

In my parents generation.. they were told to work, to add to the economy, provide for the family, pay for their homes, pay into CPF.. and by the time they retired by 55, they can look towards a comfortable retirement.. well my folks are retired and this implicit promise is but a dream.. what Singapore is today have been built on the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices of the previous generation of “economic units”.. it would seem that the government have forgotten how in the worst of times these people put their best foot forward.. when the PAP shouted “2 is enough”.. these faithful complied.. when there was a need for more workers.. mothers went to work.. children, families suffered.. every economic downturn.. the government cried out for wage restraint.. these faithful complied..

What is their reward after a lifetime of sacrifice.. retirement.. realisation that their CPF does not truly amount to much.. definitely much less than comfortable.. The PAP prides itself that it has the very best and they have this great gift of “foresight”.. the great “helicopter view”.. well then, I am sure they must have forseen this.. greater lifespans, ever rising medical cost, the need for infrastructure to look into the requirements of this group of people.. the truth is that they were aware of it but chose not to act.. negligent in their duty.. this gift of foresight is truly not so hard when you have the best information handed to you.. true that the information does not point blank tell you the future but the obvious conclusion is exactly like 1 + 1 = 2.. when you have such good information as the government has .. its as clear as day..

Singaporeans have been constantly lulled into a sense, not of complacency as many would like to describe it, but into a sense of security.. in the beginning it was important that the populace was told that things were going well.. its positive strokes.. encouragement.. but they went too far, and the Straits Times is guilty of biased reporting which has only served to perpetuate this frame of mind.. its come to this point where we are in the worst economic downturn in our short 37 years.. we do not truly know where we stand in world standards anymore.. Also, the information to the people is confusing.. one moment we are a newly developed country and the next we are paid second rate salaries.. we have a world class system for so many things.. but yet our lifestyle and quality of life cannot compare with that of the other developed nations.. I am tired of hearing how good we are.. coz i know its only half true.. I need the simple, unadulterated TRUTH..

Is the government truly interested in its people?? Lets look at what they have done.. They want us to have 2.1 children per couple.. replacement rate.. they asked for a baby bonus and gave out “baby tax rebates” .. the stress here is baby.. small.. did not amount to much.. they asked for feedback.. the people complied and gave lots of ideas.. not much of it has been taken up.. its like asking the child what he wants so that he will promise to do his best at the exams.. the child replies.. the parent government listens but does nothing.. thence a failing grade.. what do you expect.. You hear but do not LISTEN..

In the dizzying pace of pre-1997.. the rising cost of public housing was a source of great expectations for some and for others great desperation.. the $ value of the homes kept rising year on year, often by more than what the normal person could earn in the same period of time.. everyone who was looking to buy a flat knew this.. did the HDB?? there were some who wrote to highlight this but it all fell on deaf ears.. Then the meltdown came right along.. (another missed opportunity for foresight.. how long did the government think that Sunday would last).. the people suffered.. businesses suffered.. businessmen suffered.. and property developers (very rich people) complained.. and the government reduced land supply.. WHO did the authority listen to ?? not the poor suffering people.. but the really rich developers.. questionable ??

Education.. the great leveler in a meritocracy.. in its quest to have a better system the Ministry Of Education (MOE) did many things.. one of which was to ask for feedback.. many are opposed to the streaming of children at an early age.. legitimate concerns of labeling and not giving late developers an equal chance at success have been completely ignored.. the MOE and the education minister after all its efforts have not taken “ownership” of this great Singaporean concern.. if you have enough money and can pay the way for your child to bypass this system, your child is fortunate.. but what about the rest of the innocent children??? Will another generation pay for the mistakes of this policy??

Parents!!! for your info : if you think that you have found a better system in an international school and want to send your child there, and that school has a vacancy.. you cannot.. MOE rules.. anyway their reply is that they are in the process of improving their system.. until then your child will have to suffer at their hands.. hopefully they will change before your child grows up.. and we know that children grow up so fast these days.. what a wonderful situation..

Foreign talent.. and all its wonderful potential.. I agree with the PM on this issue.. and I believe that we need to attract talented people here.. hopefully we can learn fast enough.. the problem for Singaporean workers is not from the talented foreigners.. its the not-so-talented to the unskilled that is a problem.. at every level the Singaporean is priced out of his job.. we have become simply too expensive.. its cheaper to hire a mainland Chinese engineer than one of our own, cheaper to get a Filipino nurse than one of our own, even cheaper to get a foreigner to attend to the petrol pumps than one of our retired elderly.. Singaporeans, at ALL levels are priced out.. for many instances there is no talent that we do not already have.. this was not what the PM meant.. fabulous policy but failed implementation..

For foreigners who work in Singapore, I have noticed that it is not too difficult to get PR status.. many Malaysians, mainland Chinese, Indonesians, Filipinos etc.. I welcome these people who have come here to consider if they want to stay on and be citizens.. once they have their PR status they enjoy many of the benefits of being Singaporean…without having to withstand the other cost of being Singaporeans.. Singaporeans do National Service, then serve out 13 years of reserve duty.. all in the name of providing security to our country.. we benefit from our sacrifices.. but so do all others who make Singapore their workplace.. they are given access to government funded schemes.. at the cost of taxpayers.. the bulk of which are Singaporeans.. and after some time some will choose to stay on but many will choose to go.. The problem is not the PRs but those who would abuse the system, benefit from our generosity and when they had enough, run.. the process of offering PR should be a lot more stringent or we will face a similar problem like the Europeans with foreigners who have stayed on only to abuse their generous social benefits..

With Singaporeans’ inability to reproduce themselves and the government’s willingness to “import” the required numbers to keep the economy growing.. will our vote count in 20 years when we have retired?? 1st generation immigrants would likely feel beholden to the government and support it in elections.. what can born and bred Singaporeans do then?? What will stop the incumbent government from importing and naturalising the required numbers to keep them in office??

Some things to consider…