Thursday, July 09, 2009

Singapore 10th most expensive city in the world!!!!

London is ranked 16th. Paris is ranked 13th. [Link]. We have 20% of our population earning less than $1400 per month. I challenge you to find me one person working full time in London or Paris earning less than $1400 a month - I believe you will have a hard time, yet there are a few hundred thousand Singaporeans living on such low income. Imagine what life is like in the 10th most expensive city in the world when you work full time for less than $1400 a month.

We have the income distribution of a 3rd world country and cost of living that is number 10 among the most expensive cities in the world. So what is quality of life for the bottom one third of the population? You know that article by Vijay Kumar on the "The hidden ugly side of Singapore" [Link] has been circulated in forums and blogs. Many express doubt about the story being true but the important thing is the story CAN be true. When you have people making less than $1400 a month, people who are uninsured (due to existing or congenital illness) because healthcare is not universal and expensive, no minimum wages, no social safety net and the most expensive public housing in the world, you can imagine a large segment of the population living in misery and struggling in the system.
The problem with Singapore is the leadership that got us to this sorry state. We are led by a prime minister whose first moves when he was elected was to increase regressive tax (GST) and cut corporate taxes and those of high income earners. He then increased the pay of his cabinet which was already the highest in the world. He did not understand that the distribution of wealth in a nation is as important as the creation of wealth. His govt focussed on GDP growth and not on quality of life of Singaporeans....hence the opening of floodgates of foreign labor to keep wages down and GDP growing. How to keep this system going? Repress the opposition, limit the rights of the people to gather and speak up, control the media to paint a fairy tale of success and use estate upgrading as an election threat. It is hard these days to believe in the fairy tale, the Internet is slowing breaking the state media's monopoly, and many Singaporeans are beginning to understand that tax payers' money should not be used to threaten the voters during elections.


pojaya said...

I don't doubt there are serious problems with the income distribution in Singapore. However, according to the survey, Beijing, Singapore and Shanghai are more expensive than London or Oslo!!! Seriously?

Anonymous said...

The research is based on expatriate living and working in Singapore. In reality, I think it could be worse for residents.

I have also read before the starting pay of Japanese graduates in Tokyo are also higher in terms of Singapore dollars. For example. starting pay for a graduate in Singapore in 2009 is $2000 (must state the year : ) because my year averaged about $1800 in 2002), but a graduate in Tokyo may be getting $3000. Of course the pay will be offset by higher cost.
Similarly, our media likes to write about the income tax. They always mentioned income tax rate that can go as high as 50%. Well, back in 2000, I asked a rather recent fresh graduate working in San Diego (abt 2 yrs) how much she was getting. She said about US$3000. I remembered clearly because the papers just published about the comparison between tax rates in other countries. I exclaimed that she was only getting US$1500 for her daily expenses. She said no and that the tax would be bore by the company. So her gross pay was about US$4000 to US$5000. My friend's uncle who migrated to the US also said though the tax rate can be high on the surface, there are many rebates especially you have a family.

His main reason for migration;Singapore has lousy welfare benefits and does not seem to care for the handicapped. He has a son who is severely handicapped and he was facing many difficulties such as enrolling in a school etc. That was the primary reason for his migration.

On the whole, he said that Singapore is a good place for people to just have a decent job and live simply. However, if you are one who dreams and wants to take challenges and pursue passion, then good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

You have to look at the computation of the index. Firslty, it is pegged to US dollars and the Euros and British currencies fared poorly during the survey period. On other hand, Reminbi remained strong during that period. It was acknowledged in the report. Anyway, indices and statistics make more sense when you study how it is computed and arrived. Nevertheless, I still think Singapore is quite expensive.

Anonymous said...

We have here a govt who gets commercially involved in practically every sector of the business community and gets to cream off the most profitable businesses in Singapore - property and residential development because of its privileged position as the largest owner of public real estate.

If they do not maximise whatever profits that they can make out of everything that they can lay their hands on, then how do you think they can keep all their running dogs well fed so as to be able attend some cooking classes in Paris ?

Anonymous said...

Singapore's structure is unsustainable. We all know that but we cannot upturn what is obviously wrong. It can only get worse, not better, if you to ask me, as they have to dig deeper to try and sustain it. They have already reap what is possible by getting their fingers in every perceivable pie. They are now twiddling the CPF and savings of the folks. They are also tweaking indirect taxes on utilities and transport. We will become a nation of living dead.

Jim said...

The Elite 5% of the population will grow richer and richer. Their standard of living will also get better and better - F1, casino resorts, new mega malls selling luxury brands, etc.

75% of the population will keep the money flowing for the Elite through consumption and taxation. This group shall also be self sustaining - pay market price for housing, healthcare, retirement, childcare, elderly care. Expect no help from the government. Their sons will also be conscripted into the security and civil defence forces to protect the interests of the Elite (disguised as NS).

20% of the population will take on low level jobs for a pittance. They are expected to live for the sake of living (e.g. how many meals do you want a day? - in hawker centre, food court or restaurant?) This group of people keep wages low so that profits for the Elite are maximised. If they can't take it anymore, either emigrate to 3rd world countries, commit suicide or go to prison.

I think PM Goh meant it when he said Singapore will achieve Swiss standard of living. In fact, we may have already exceeded it, judging from the foreign millionaires that have chose Singapore as their home (e.g. Jet Li).

Anonymous said...

Swiss Standard Living alright ! But of course Lau Goh didn't tell you he meant it was only for the PAP and their cronies !
He didn't lie, they received their Swiss Standard million-dollar salaries !!!

Adamovic said...

Hm, it depends of publishers, alternative source is Cost of living index

Anonymous said...

Be prepared to live like Russians. The elite gets richer and the poor gets poorer. Those in the middle aren't better off as well.

Anonymous said...

Singapore city is also a country, so by that it can also be the 10th (or even higher) most expensive country in the world!

In other countries you can go to the surburbs or other areas and things are much cheaper. Can you do that in Singapore?

By area and population Singapore is only a fraction of other big cities in the world.

LuckySingaporean said...

I don't think we should be too hang up about whether we are 10th or 15th...the basic fact is we are an expensive city and among us there are people who earn miserably low income and that makes living in Singapore a struggle for a large part of the population.

Anonymous said...

The US has the same type of situation. A lot of poor people, a lot of well-off people.

Anonymous said...

a recent article in the Financial Times stated that Walmart Walton family is wealthier than the bottom third of the US population put together..that is 100 million people.

Anonymous said...

To anon 3:13 PM

But in US, the poor still can get food, clothes and other necessities at much lower prices. There are Thrift stores that sell very cheap clothes for example. Big department stores like Macys will donate the stuff from past season (as American consider them out of fashion after 3-6 months) to these Thrift stores and get tax exemption. A pair of jeans can only cost USD 5 at this Thrift stores and I am not kidding.

And there is Craigs' list where you can get 2nd hand stuff for very very low prices. Some people I know even give away their furniture for free as it costs them more money to get removal companies to take them to the dump.

Cost of housing and cars in US are much lower than SIngapore too. A friend of mine in California bought a brand new Toyota Corolla for only USD 17,000 tax included ! A 2nd hand car can be bought for USD 5,000.

On top of that Americans have social security and are also entitled to unemployment benefits.

There are also US charity groups that have many social programs to help the poor. The poor can even get lawyers to represent them free of charge in court !

I have lived in several major cities in US and this is not just confined to one state but all over the country. The truth is the US government takes care of their citizens much much better than Singapore PAP.

Anonymous said...


Well said. And if the ostrich like behaviour of the PAP govt are still oblivious to the suffering of the man in the street caused by the artificially high cost of living in Singapore, then they'll have to be prepared to lose the trust of the people. But sadly, on the other hand, many Singaporeans will continue to fall for the monetary bait laid down by the PAP and will vote for their destructive policies and greed.

Anonymous said...

form a communist party and run for the next election lor. The government is trying to distribute wealth on a certain level, through the use of taxes. But our income distribution is comparable to which 3rd world country?

Anonymous said...

form a communist party and run for the next election lor. The government is trying to distribute wealth on a certain level, through the use of taxes. But our income distribution is comparable to which 3rd world country?

Anonymous said...

form a communist party and run for the next election lor. The government is trying to distribute wealth on a certain level, through the use of taxes. But our income distribution is comparable to which 3rd world country?

Anonymous said...

oops. sorry for multi post

Anonymous said...

PAP is specialised in technocracy which views society and market as a mechanism which they can engineer and manipulate through their regulations, propaganda, policies and constant tweaking of policies.

PAP no doubt also understands quite a bit about humans like they have short memory. PAP knows people will complain about bad policies but they will forget soon enough.

PAP also knows that people are more focused on immediate gratification and hence can be easily appeased with short-term benefits while forgetting future prospects.

For this reason the people needs to be warned.

Future scenarios should be created for them for them to understand what they will experience in 15-30 years time if things continue as such.

They will find healthcare beyond their means and still saddled down with outstanding housing loans for their HDB flats after 20, 25 years.

PAP will enact a policy to send the old Singaporeans to old folks home in Johor or Batam where they will not get to meet their loved ones even once a week.

Having more and more sick people, euthanasia may be legalised but euthanasia Singapore-style might be even easier than that in some developed countries like Netherlands.

After organ trading is legalised under the term of "compensating the donor", hehe. What euthanasia, mercy killing?

On retirement Singaporeans will be told that for their own good, they should only withdraw a fraction of their CPF savings even at age 69. The rest will be passed to their children but their children too will never get to see the money.

After all nobody knows where the money is anyway. Temasek and GIC will say we have them invested in a hundred of companies around the world for your own good.

Just a sample of future scenarios; there is more if you think about it.

Anonymous said...

no need to quote walmart/FT, fact is simple: singapore's GINI coefficient is worse off than US.

shopspamtj said...

I love to travel to Singapore because it combines the qualities of the first world with the charms of the third (ex hawker stalls -- great food, extremely cheap, yet absolutely safe to eat, or very cheap and ubiquitous taxis without hassle and cheating).

These ratings have the problem that they tend to be upper-class centered. Not long ago I read Teheran was one of the most expensive places on earth. And Saigon.

These ratings ask questions relevant to a certain kind of people: What does a nice house cost? What a car? (And cars are very expensive in Singapore.) And a five-star meal in a hotel restaurant?

When I go to Singapore, I stay in a $50 hotel, take public transportation and taxis everywhere (very cheap) and eat most of my meals in small places like hawker stalls or hole-in-the-wall restaurants --not to save money, but because they are best. I feel I live like a king in Singapore and spend extremely little money. I easily do Singapore on some US$80 a day, including hotel.

In London, for ex., I wouldn't be able to have the same quality of life with 4 times the money.

shopspamtj said...

These surveys are based on the lifestyles of busienss travelers and expats. When I travel to Singapore, I love the combination of thrid world charms with first world quality -- for example hawker stall food: top quality, extremely cheap, yet safe. Or taxis: Ubiquitous and cheap, but no hassle and no cheating.

I stay in decent hotels at US$40-50, eat most of my meals at stalls or hole-in-the-wall restaurants (not to save money, but because they are great) and take public transportation or taxis everywhere. I spend US$80-90 a day, hotel included.

In London, that would mean youth hosteland eating cold spaghetti from a can.

Of course, I have a friend, an expat, who complains about the cost of living. Her luxury condo, her maid, private school for the kids, the car of course (very pricey in Singapore, and for good reason).

AWH said...

We spend money and guess who makes it?

GO to this blog by Paul Hayward in the UK OBSERVER, Sun 12 July 2009:

Formula One minus its despots would still lose the race for respect........

Singapore Democrats said...

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C K said...

Am now residing in London. I think the expense study is obtained from surveys from expats. It doesn't really take into account if you 'live like a local'.

I notice that my expenses have dropped quite a bit over here in London, not because of living expenses but more because I take steps to curb it by giving up certain luxuries. For example, I eat out less often (there's no hawker centres here), go less often to movies and elect to watch BBC instead, cut out gym membership and run in the park instead. No car, no maid and the list goes on.

However, one thing to note that a chunck of my income is paid into the National Health Services (NHS), which provides free health care for all. In certain areas, NHS is superior to the private services back home (as in S'pore) but it's really the luck of the draw.

So unless we take all that into account, I would venture that the study is flawed.

Anonymous said...

one thing is the cost of living in Singapore is too high but i will not vote for any party because all they party are mother fucker they talk and talk only but never help never give money pap give only $200 how long can we live?? and SDP SDA WP never give money if they give $2,000 or $3,000 that i will vote for not now all singapore party are lose SO MY SINGAPOREAN don't vote for any party they lie so much but never help never never vote

Sureesh said...

Prison conditions in singapore are very harsh, you have to drink water from the toilet and there is risk of being sexually abused by other prisoners. So going to prison for poor people not a good option anyway what can poor people do, they even play each other out at times.

Fremen said...

And yet everyone here still votes for PAP anyway. The massive majority of the folks here have many comments about the way SG is run, but none have the courage to rally fellow citizens into claiming their rights. Not saying that I have that courage, but if you don't even have the guts to speak up in public, then quit hiding behind your IP address online like a coward.

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