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Thursday January 19th 2017

Ten important issues Singaporeans need to ponder before going to the polls

Ten important issues Singaporeans need to ponder before going to the polls:-

1. Is your lifestyle getting any better after the last election?

Singaporeans need to ask themselves if their living standard has improve after GE 2011 or has it got worse?

A government is supposed to look after the basic well-being of it’s people and to ensure that everyone has a job, roof and education.

Though we may have our basic needs met, often we struggle from hand to mouth as wages are still too low to survive in the world’s highest cost of living.

There is still no minimum wage to ensure that we live decently and many have to take on another part-time job in order to survive.

HDB flats though made available to most Singaporeans are still very expensive averaging $250,000 and a nucleus family needs to have two working members in order to make ends meet.

Bread and butter issues will probably figure in the coming election many thought to be in September this year as many PMETs could not readily find jobs in a increasing hostile work environment.

2. What kind of future are we getting ourselves into?

The government seems to be going into a GDP-focused economy often leaving the locals out of the economic equation. Many would agree with me that  our country is rich but the people do not benefit directly from the economic prosperity.

250,000 Singaporeans still earn $1000 a month and below easily placing them at the poverty line.

A large majority of these households consist of those from the minority races – victims of some racial and economic discrimination by the majority Chinese employers.

International free trade agreement (FTA) has also provened to be detrimental to the employment well-being of Singaporeans as there is a specified number of foreigners we need to absorb to meet the trade agreement of the FTA.

According to the India-Singapore CECA, professionals in a total of 127 occupations can take up employment between the two countries and we can visibly see this happening in many professions right now – IT, health and even educational sector.

Right now, we are going into a future whereby ironically the HR executives are foreigners who will have the final say whether you can have a job or not in our own homeland and in all likelihood you will probably report to a foreigner superior who can also give you the sack within 24 hours.

Is this the kind of Singapore you want?

3. Are you able to retire comfortably when you are old?

Despite chalking up record reserve every year with two fattening world-class sovereign funds, we are still unable to coax the government to cough up a single cent to our retirement fund.

Depending entirely on our own CPF reserve to survive during our golden years, Singaporeans just saw the minimum sum rising to $161,000 with no sight of reprive.

It is envisaged that less than half of working-class Singaporeans will be able to meet the minimum sum by the time they reach 55 years old and many may need to work at Macdonald or push trolley to pick cardboard when they retire.

The CPF retirement scheme is only good if the person is working throughout his working life till he retires at age 65 years old but with our choppy labour environment here, it will be fortunate if someone can work till 50 years old.

Most PMETs could not find any suitable job when they reach 50 years old and many take up cab driving or any free-lance work in order to survive – their CPF account would have stay flat by then or worse goes into deficit if he invests in a HDB flat.

The government’s staunch stand on self-sufficiency has caused much hardship to many Singaporeans who struggle from low wages while they work and may even need to work beyond his retirement years in order to survive.

Most workers holding low-end jobs can’t retire comfortably using the CPF minimum sum scheme.

Is this the kind of Singapore you want?

4. Do you worry for your children future?

Do you feel confident raising up your kids in our country?

I have friends who have to place a downpayment for their children flats when they are getting married as they could not afford to do so on their own.

I am talking about HDB resale flat whereby you need to pay cash on top of valuation unless you purchase a new BTO flat whereby the waiting period can be between 2-3 years and the location is not that ideal.

In fact, many professionals prefer to emigrate abroad so their children can have ready access to tertiary education as currently less than 30% of our PSLE cohort will ever get to enter a university – even though their grades are great.

Yet, the government prefers to pump in $350 million tax-payer money a year into a scheme to educate thousands of  foreign students each year without the burden of a loan.

Even if your children manage to get a seat in our prestigious local universities, the school fees keep raising every year and it becomes a long-long burden for them but foreign scholars have free education up to university level.

They are then issue with permanent residency status whereby they can aggressively compete for jobs with your kids. They can leave the country for greener pastures once they are bored with our system or feel that other countries offer better opportunities.

Is this the kind of Singapore you want?

5. Do you get to read news in a balanced way?

We all know by now how skewed our news have being all along as most of our media is government-controlled.

Unemployment figures are massaged to portray a positive image and many survey results are done to paint a rosy picture of the government.

The mainstream media is a huge government’s propaganda machinery which helps the ruling party for a very long time and it has successfully use it to their advantage especially during the general election.

However, our media has being slipping down the free press ranking every year and it shows no signs of improvement unless something changes at the core of the country.

Many Singaporeans have now switch to reading news from the many social political sites and our local press suffers from spiralling newspaper sales as the young professionals prefer a more balanced reporting.

Is this the kind of Singapore you want.

6. Can you speak freely here?

We have been recently rocked by defamation suit and jail sentences for those who have spoken out against the regime.

Such news travelled round the globe internationally as many people abroad are perplexed by a first-world affluent country still practising third-world democracy.

In fact, chances are you will feel that we are very much like a little China trying to stay democratic abeit in a very limited form as our practices are very much communist-like.

You can’t speak against the government freely for fear of being persecuted and people will hush you up if you speak too loudly in a coffee-shop talk about politics.

Is this the kind of Singapore you want?

7. Are you concerned with the current healthcare situation?

My mum has to put up with two occasions in a holding area at CGH earlier this year as there is a lack of beds.

Some unfortunate ones have to stay the night along the public corridor whereby people walk past them before they can be admitted to the ward.

Our healthcare facilities suffer as the population suddenly explodes over the past decade due to the recent foreign influx.

Those working here on our esteemed EP work permits can bring their families along and some even bring along their mums and dads further worsening the squeeze on our tiny island.

Resources feel the squeeze as hospitals could not be built as fast as the population balloon.

Moreover, despite the government’s frequent assurance that public healthcare is affordable to the general population, many prefer to die than seeking treatment due to the perceived high medical cost here.

Less than 7% of our annual expenditure is used for social services with defence arm purchase dominating the overall budget totalling close to 20%.

Why do we want to spend close to $200 million for a fighter jet when we have enjoy peace for the past 5 decades after independence?

Is this the kind of Singapore you want?

8. One-party rule  good for us?

We also have one party dominating politics for the past 5 decades even though 40% of the population recently voted against the ruling party.

One-party rule means bills are pushed down hurriedly in Parliament with minimal debate – all in the name of a better Singapore and little can be down to reverse that trend unless opposition politicians make up 33% of Parliamentary seats.

A country rules by one party breeds complacency as there is no one to challenge and push them.

Though its important to bring down the majority votes of the incumbent at the next election, its more important that the opposition wins seats in Parliament.

The ruling party needs to stay at the edge of their seats so they can better serve the people and not lord over us which is the case now.

There is the general feeling that they are ruling over us than getting to the ground and listen to us before implementing policies.

Their policies need to reflect the sentiment of the people than those that are good for Singapore Inc – often meant in economic terms only.

Is this the kind of Singapore you want?

9.  Lack of transparency and accountability good for us?

Despite its world-renowned good governance, the government still lacks transparency over our sovereign funds which hold close to $600 billion of our reserves.

The government treats the funds like their own money and no one can question details about them. The Prime Minister and his wife are probably the only two main custodians to the ultra-rich sovereign funds raising doubts about their ownership impartiality.

Even the People’s Association accounts are shrouded in secrecy and its a huge issue as half a billion dollars of our tax payer money is spent there each year with little transparency.

The Prime Minister is the chairman there and the board is mostly make up of ministers. Its unsure how the money is being used each year.

As the people go to the pools soon, they have to ask themselves whether they want more accountability on how the government spends our money or prefer an alternative party to hold the rein.

If more vocal opposition voices are being voted into parliament to check on the government, it may do the job.

10. Lack of job protection good for us?

Singaporeans also face a future of short-term contractual employment and some may not even have a permanent job at all as companies are allowed to issue contracts of one to two years mostly to our workers.

Contracts allow the companies to save cost as compensation is kept to the minimum – some don’t even hand out bonuses.

We can’t plan much ahead especially if you are young and starting out in life with short-term contractual employment.

You don’t dare to commit to a flat with anyone as there is no guarantee that your job is still there when your contract ends.

Companies now can terminate you anyhow giving you one month’s notice according to the contract signed.

MOM or TAFEP can’t help you much as they cited that the contract is such and the company has done their part.

If you earn $4500 and above you have to seek your own legal recourse if you have a contractual dispute with your employer.

Is this the kind of Singapore you want?

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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Reader Feedback

2 Responses to “Ten important issues Singaporeans need to ponder before going to the polls”

  1. sal says:

    Gilbert, you should be in the next election. I will vote for you and wish that you will be in the next parliament to debate policies that affect the common Sporeans.

  2. Richard Woo says:

    Singapore can no longer afford to continue under the leadership of the PAP. We have to VETO OUT the PAP from power in the coming elections. That’s the only way forward. Simply vote for the opposition; we have no other choice.

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