I have listed seven shameful policies that are unique to Singapore.
They not only cause untold misery to our own people but also make it to be the first in the world for some instances.
- Our elderly folks need to work to be independent
I am always embarrassed whenever my foreign friends asked me why our elderly needs to collect plates at the foodcourt or mop the floor in the toilets at Changi Airport.
The question is often asked out of mocked astonishment than anything else.
I have told them frankly that our government has neglected social welfare policies all along and everyone needs to work – even if he is 70 years old – so that we can be independent and not rely on the government for handout.
How about their children? My foreign friends will then ask.
“Do they not take care of their own elderly parents?”
I told them that their children ought to be shot if they could not provide for their own ageing parents but if they themselves are unemployed and can’t even fend for themselves how can they provide for their own parents?
Ageing parents can now sue their children for monthly maintenance as our government stubbornly withdraws their responsibility to care for our ageing population.
Most Singaporeans also face their retirement with anxiety as they do not save enough while working – due to a pathetic salary they could earn. Less than half have the mandatory $130, 000 in their CPF ordinary account for retirement purpose and in a fast ageing population, this could prove to be a time-bomb that the government has no ready solution.
- Jobs given to foreigners on a platter
There is no proper check and balance system and using a easily-manipulated quota system, any company can have access to cheap third world labour by simply advertising on the internet or newspaper.
Applications for jobs from the foreigners tend to outnumber local citizens by 50 to one in any job opening and employers preferred to hire a non-local worker as they are cheaper, faster and younger but not necessarily better.
Some companies can even staff their offices with 100% foreign workers if they have apply the coveted Employment Pass (EP) for them. There is no foreigner quota on companies hiring using the EP work permit and the system is subjected to manipulation.
Without proper safeguard and very little control over the influx of foreign workers, Singaporeans continue to experience job-loss stress causing many abled executives to look at emigration as the pathway to greener pasture.
It’s a shame when you need to look elsewhere for employment when your own country is enjoying high economic growth and most of the jobs have benefitted foreigners only. It is rumoured that the two integrated resorts employ close to 70% foreigners in it’s work force though there are no data available to prove this.
This is again unique to Singapore only and not available to any countries in the modern world
- Second most populated city in the world – due to untimely immigration
There is now an average of one foreign worker for every three people living in Singapore and the over crowding of facilities and resources have stretch the coping mechanism of many Singaporeans living in the same small island city.
The government has brought in well over half a million foreigners into the small country the past decade and hopes to reach the ultimate goal of having six million people to achieve maximum economic optimization.
Nevertheless, it’s lopsided policy of enlarging the population through artificial ways meant that many unqualified people get to enjoy permanent residence status easily. Some Singaporeans have even found kitchen helpers and cleaners to be PRs!
We have even surpassed Hong Kong now and became the most populated city by population density inEast Asia. We have 6300 people per square kilometer and is ranked second in the world as the most populated country after Monaco (istverse.com/2007/08/30/top-10-densely-populated-nations/).
No wonder, most Singaporeans flocked to nearby Johore Bahru for a breather during public holidays or just for the mere weekend quick get-away.
Singapore can ill-afford to take in any more immigrants due to our relatively limited space and over-worked infrastructure. The enforced immigration policy also drove up housing cost and inflation remained at over 5.7% in August this year.
Housing cost went up a whopping 9.9% compared to a year ago – no thanks to immigrants bidding for our limited houses in the property market.
Over crowding not only stretched infrastructure resources but also stress up our over worked populace. Mental health became an issue as a recent Institute of Mental Health report stated that 25% of our population suffers from depression.
The government’s achieve-at-all-cost economic emphasis has caused much pain to its own people and the recent spike in bodies found at Bedok Reservior – due mainly to suicides – may be an indication that all is not well within our country.
- Pay for a certificate before buying a car
Having a car becomes a status-conscious item and people rather eat less than not having a vehicle to show off especially during Chinese New Year.
Some COEs became so expensive that it may even have surpass the car price abroad!
For example, the latest COE price for the 1600 cc & above category has shot up to $56, 000 recently in October and with the same price one can buy two brand new Honda Civic in Australia!
The COE not only ramps up inflation cost here but also denies many Singaporeans more disposable income as they have to change their cars after ten years.
Suffice to say, the high COE cost has effectively deterred many Singaporeans from purchasing automobiles but it has inevitably also produces a class divide within the status-conscious society as those who drive are seen as capable and wealthier.
Each COE can be used only for ten years and the cars, even if they are still in good working condition, need to be scrapped after that.
It is believed that COE tops up the coffers of the government by the billions each year and will be here to stay for the long haul.
Besides COE, Singaporeans are used to paying all kinds of fees e.g. ERP, S & C, PUB, GST, maid levy and others so that the government has more to pay themselves!
Incidentally, the S$100 charged for TV licensing fee per household was dropped last year when there was an uproar on the validity of having such a fee.
- Expensive difficult-to-get public housing
This is also another uniquely Singaporean phenomenon as the government always promises affordable cheap public housing but it is still out of reach to many Singaporeans.
A simple Build-To-Order (BTO) 4-room HDB flat costs around $300, 000 in a reasonably good location.
Not only do Singaporeans have to bid for their new flats but they have to wait an average of three years before they can occupy them as it is built-to-order. The flats also benefit only married citizens leaving out many hundreds of thousands of single Singaporeans out in the cold.
With many people delaying marriage further due to their career aspiration, the long wait for BTO flats further compounded the housing problem for newly-weds.
Incidentally, only 39.4 males are married compared to 1000 unmarried males for year 2010. The general marriage rate for females is lower at 37 compared to 1000 unmarried females ((http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/themes/people/marriages.pdf).
The public housing policy remains one of the main issue why our singles continue to delay their marriage or even totally put off marriage altogether as some are afriad that they could not cope with the repayment housing loan.
Without a decent roof over their head, it is not difficult to envisage why people continue to be single and our birthrate has hit rock bottom.
As Singapore grapples with one of the lowest fertility rate in the world – we have a total fertility rate of less than 1.2, which is well below the population replacement rate, more can be done by the government to try and make things easier for our young couples to get hitched.
- Pathetic human rights record and freedom of speech
Singapore is also one of the rare few developed countries in the world that does not enjoy proper human rights and freedom of speech, We are even sometimes compared with communist-bloc countries in our ideology system!
For example, no one dares to turn up at the recent Occupy Raffles Place as the police has issued a warning the day before that dissidents will be dealth with appropriately.
On that actual day, there were more journalists than protestors at Raffles Place making a mockery of our democratic status.
Protestors have to protest legally at the Speakers’ Corner and speakers have to register their names if they want to speak at the event further deterring people from gathering peacefully.
Extra cameras were also fitted earlier this tear to deter protestors from getting into mischief at Speakers’ Corner.
As the press is also controlled by the state and most of the government data is not released for public viewing, many Singaporeans are unsure about the actual happenings in their own country.
Singaporeans have to turn to popular socio-political blogs for any alternative views as the press will not provide such a luxury. Many also rant anti-establishment views online as they have no where to express their frustrations.
Though the country seems used to being tightly controlled, the recent elections have shown that the government is losing it’s popularity as a well-run outfit.
40% of the population voted for the opposition parties and the tide has turned against the government as the population grabbles with high unemployment among it’s well-educated workforce due to the influx of foreigners into our midst.
The government seems unsure as to what to do to stem this shift and may lose more seats in the coming 2016 General Election.
- Most well-paid government in the world
We have the most well-paid government in the world and uniquely Singapore too.
Even a junior minister pay of S$1 million is way above that of the American President who only earns US$400, 000 annually. Our Prime Minister earns S$3 million a year and the President almost S$4 million for not doing anything much.
A permanent secretary in the Singapore government office already draws close to S$500, 000 annually.
The government ministers also receive bonuses in tandem with the GDP fuelling speculation why the government is so obsessed with raising GDP for the economy and using it as a yardstick to measure their efficiency.
The government has vounched to reduce their salaries in a ministerial pay review promised by the Prime Minister after the recent General Election but so far there isn’t any news yet and in the mean time, the ministers continue drawing their fat pay cheques. The government is also reluctant to implement minimum wage to our human resource policy for fear that our billion-dollar investors will pack and leave the country.
With no minimum wage policy in place, more than 300, 000 Singaporeans earned less than $1500 a month last year and around 400, 000 Singaporeans applied for wage incentive scheme (WIS) – a government scheme meant to assist low-waged Singaporeans to the tune of $3000 a year but a large percentage of it is contributed to their CPF accounts.
A Singapore government which is too well paid not only meant that some office bearers may be drawn to the job because of monetary reward but more importantly they may not be able to understand the woes of the common people they are serving. How can a millionaire minister understands the issues faced by a $1500-salary–a-month commoner?
This is yet another uniquely shameful Singaporean occurrence.
Written by: Gilbert Goh