Tuesday, July 07, 2009

GDP Growth as Progress in Singapore....

"Do we want to open our country to expats so that they can progress at the expense of our own Malaysians? Do we want to 'progress' to a level that even our children can't buy a house in our own land? Last, I ask myself. Do we Malaysians look at GDP growth as the only measure to choose our government or are we much more matured than that? Achievement at whose expense?" - Vijay Kumar, Malaysian who worked in Singapore [Link]
We saw what 7.5% GDP growth is like in 2007 - cost of housing went up by 23%, transport costs go up, utilities go up, etc. Income rose meaningfully only for a small number of people because of unequal distribution. Most Singaporeans fear the type of GDP growth we see in 2007 but we are also afraid of job losses in a recession. For many Singaporeans, the good times are gone for ever and life is a perpetual struggle to survive. Why?

Take cars as an example. We have a quota system. This means that even if income rises, the number of people who are allowed to have cars is the same. What happens when income rises is the COE price goes up disproportionately compared with the rise in income. You might think that if your income goes up, you can afford more taxi rides, forget it! Taxi fares rise just as fast when demand goes up because the number of taxis is also limited by the COE. Housing? Do HDB flats become more affordable when GDP goes up? No! In 2007, the GDP went up 7.5% but the cost of housing went up by 23%. The paradox in Singapore is as people make higher incomes, the size of homes they can afford shrinks. For a large number of people whose income remain stagnant, these price increases represent a fall in real wages and we see more poverty in Singapore today than we did 20 years ago.

Singapore did what no other country has done to go after GDP growth - importing foreign labor in large numbers. Most other countries do it by moving up the technology ladder, innovation, nurturing home grown industries. In 2008, our population grew by 5.5% to 4.84M[Link] that is an addition of roughly 250,000 people. Does it make sense to add so many people onto a land scarce island like Singapore? We have been told various things over the years including "foreigners create jobs for Singaporeans", "don't be small minded", etc. Most Singaporeans can agree that a certain level of immigration helps to keep our society vibrant but to import people to maximise GDP ignoring the impact on ordinary Singaporeans can be detrimental in the long run.
Malaysian, Vijay Kumar, fears that his govt will copy Singapore's model to maximise GDP growth. He does not like what he saw when he worked in Singapore and asks if Malaysians should just "look at GDP growth as the only measure to choose government" or "are we more matured than that?". Vijay Kumar has asked the right questions, the same questions Singaporeans asked but received no proper answer for the past 15 years. Now we are told to just accept what has been done and told to live with the consequences.


Jim said...

The quality of life is becoming lower as we "progress".

The foreigners manning food stalls dish out poor service and poor versions of local food. Just yesterday at a food court stall, utensils had ran out and a customer was scolded by the FT for demanding his fork and spoon.

Singaporeans have to stretch their wallets by buying no frill groceries and cheaper parallel imports from 3rd world countries. These products were meant for the poor in 3rd world countries and are of inferior quality due to their low cost ingredients. But we are actually paying first world Singapore prices for these inferior products.

Public housing is becoming too expensive. The units are also becoming smaller, and located further away from MRT stations and CBD. Now the land near MRT stations are reserved for condominium developments. 200k - 300k will only get you a 4rm flat in ulu place near factories producing noise and air pollution, worker quarters, or beside expressways. The air pollutants alone will give you lung cancer.

With the influx of immigrants, the infrastructure is unable to cope. Crime rate is also going up.

My point is, why are we paying first world prices to live in an increasingly 3rd world like country?

Anonymous said...

PAP under LHL and his junta cabinet has transformed into a neo-Republican party with trickle-down economics as their primary ideology.

Anonymous said...

Loser please get lost and do not waste the limited resources in Singapore.

Hokkien saying, please don't "Jia Liao Bee"

Anonymous said...

Ministers receive a sizeable chunk of their bonus based on GDP.

Accurate or not, GDP is used by the public as the key indicator of a country's economic growth.

So, it is not surprising that our ministers and elite chase GDP growth like men chasing pretty women.

BTW, GDP bonuses are not extended to rank-and-file civil servants. They are only for the top dogs in the civil service and ministers. Likewise, most civil servants today do not enjoy pension benefits. Ministers and top civil servants (I think) still do.

Anonymous said...

I say pay them the money if they can give us a POSITIVE GDP in this trying times. After all, during the boom time, they claimed that it is due to their leadership and should be paid their due.

Anonymous said...

To Anon@12:39pm

Yup, pay them obsecene wages for a 5 figures holidays and what have been they achieved? Reminded me te movie by Michael Moore - 911.

when a reporter ask Bush why he takes holidays after winning the election.

His reply: that's part of the work...

So, look at the mess he created for his failure to connect to typical citizens...only talks to elities

Anonymous said...

singaporeans are generally courteous and welcome foreigners.

its when the pap govt allow so many foreigners that we become uncomfortable and even hateful.

where did all the supposed benefit go? not me or u, just to the employers and ministers pay.

i sincerely hope fellow singaporeans will wake up and realise the pap's evil and vote against them.

Anonymous said...

We have been wishing that Singaporeans wake up and vote against the junta for the past several elections, but sadly it's 'same old same old' lah!

It will probably be 'same old same old' for the next twenty years.

Singaporeans are just like lost souls with a shining exterior. Outstanding in terms of economic performance but lacking in courage to change the things that need changing.

Lost Citizen

Anonymous said...


Singaporean could do one thing in the meantime, use joss-stick to pray to PAP regularly. They are really very very powerful. like a hokkien saying: "God also him Ghost also him.

WL said...

Measuring progress of a country by means of GDP growth is the problem and this method should be abandon. When there iis progress, life must be better and if this is not so, then there is NO progress, despite what the GDP figures show.

Anonymous said...

Please save Singapore from the heartless PAP by voting wisely at the next election ! Else these PAP crooks will continue to plunder our country reserves via TemaSick and the incompetent ministers' obscene pay cheques !!!

Anonymous said...

so the cake is a lie? haha

Anonymous said...

In a casino, there are a small number of high rollers and there are millions of grinds. Casinos make their money from high rollers, so the high rollers will get the best treatment. Luxurious suites, personal attention, flirty call girls, smiling staff…etc

As for the grinds, there is no need to spend too much money on them. The dealers can abuse them, the waiters can take their time to serve them, the security guard can refuse them at the door, and the high-class call girls will give you the finger if you stare at her a second too long.

Because all of them know that the grinds, sadly, have nowhere else to go.

Anonymous said...

Vijay Kumar should stop commenting on Singapore. He should just balek kampong and fight for non bumiputra rights in Malaysia!

Or join the Hindraf movement in Malaysia!

Why can't Malaysia offer him a better job?

Singapore is for Singaporeans to comment, never mind whatever shortcomings we have.

Onlooker said...

Well considering that the split is caused by someone's ambition of the Malaysian Malaysia.They have a right to discuss it in the context of Malaysia own issue.
The split also come about because then they already know about that ambition.
They do not have a same (at that time) that can defeat that ambitious person so Tunku Abdul Rahman have to cut us out.

The ambitious person ambition to prove himself as the better politician have already cause unnecessary deep rifts.

That is also why there must be a wakeup call for both countries.The imperial period of colonization is over.Why dwell in the past glory when there is a future ahead.

Anonymous said...


Policies that worked in the past does not mean that it will now.

The problem is that our government is running out ideas. The same ideas that LKY had (except IR) are being recycled over and over again by our highly paid ministers. And they refuse to admit it.

The so-called 'remaking of Singapore' did not come up with any good ideas to prevent or address the current crisis.

In my view, PAP is desperately holding on to power by dishing out job credit which we cannot afford with the huge losses by temasek and gic.

This will only mean that the future generations of Singapore (if still exist) will have to pay even more while the PRs abandon poor Singapore and go back to their own countries... very scary indeed.


Anonymous said...


Job credits are Singaporeans' reserve which were given out to supplement the ordinary account of employer's cpf contribution of working Singaporean and PRs.
Housewives and those Singaporean; i.e. unemployed and works oversea are not given any amount of the CPF in their ordinary account. It is really unfair, these weakest links of the society are marginalised. To think deeper in it, we need to ask whether is it meaningful to be true blue Singaporeans, when PR ranks higher than housewives, retired persons and out of works workers, in term of monetary awards.

Anonymous said...

our finance minister says "hard slog to recovery". pap itself shld remember that!

no amount of liberal labour exploitation will push up the gdp -linked to their astronomical pay - without considerable social costs.

vote wisely. this may be your last chance to vote.

Anonymous said...

Life in Malaysia is sweet. And I mean life as in one actually lived.

Anonymous said...

Paid RM1 to see a government doctor in Malaysian plus free medicine.

Paid S$8 + cost of medicine to see a Polyclinic doctor in Singapore.

I guess a third world countries is better than a first world Singapore.

www.empresas3d.com said...

I totally match with everything you've written.