The football fans in my office have been complaining non-stop since SingTel won the rights to broadcast EPL matches. Most Singaporeans have Starhub cable and if they want to watch soccer have to fork out another sum to subscribe to SingTel's mio TV. I have both mio and Starhub because SingTel offered me a free 6 month mio subscription when signed up for their broadband internet. I've not really watched anything on mio TV because my favorite channels are all on Starhub - History, Discovery, National Geographic and E!Entertainment. While I'm not a soccer fan, I'll scream if SingTel buys the rights to Discovery. You usually think that competition is good so how did we end up worse off when it comes to the EPL?....
The reason is both Starhub and SingTel were competing to be a monopoly for EPL broadcast. They were in a bidding war that can only result in a lousy deal for consumers. They will bid the highest possible fees based on how much die-hard soccer fans are willing to pay for their soccer fix. In this case, competition drives up the price because Starhub and SingTel cannot offer the same product since these rights are exclusive. The EPL guys know this is the best way to make the most money. Soccer fans caught in this and cannot afford it either have to give up watching soccer (which I'm told is nearly impossible) or break the law. They can get to watch EPL free if they are willing to resort to piracy. Thanks to the mainland Chinese, many of whom have little respect for copyright, there is software like TVAnts that allows you to watch soccer on your PC. You should always obey the law in Singapore but understand that laws do not always result in fairness and justice - there is ongoing debate whether copyright and patent laws have led to monopolistic profiteering behavior that is harmful for society. The 3rd largest political party in Sweden is the Pirate Party which wants the govt to reform the copyright&patent laws to make them fairer.
In 2007-2008, Temasek sold off our power stations through auctions. It was explained to the public that this is for our own good because it will result in greater competition[Link]. Yet we see our electricity tariffs rising gain[Link]. There will never be real competition to drive down prices because each of these power stations have limited capacity and cannot expand market share by offering lower prices. The power stations were sold to profit seeking foreign entities who offered the highest prices for these stations. They would like to recoup the billions they invested from Singaporean households. That they purchased our power stations, shows that the electricity tariffs Singaporeans pay generate attractive handsome profits for these companies.
Competition is not always real or good especially companies involved cannot offer the same products or when they cannot increase their supply of the product to gain market share by driving down price. This brings me to the bigger topic of housing in Singapore....which is a hot topic given how HDB prices have risen. Land is limited in Singapore. It is sold by URA through auctions. Developers bid for these land parcels very much like how SingTel bidded for the EPL rights. Just like the soccer fan needs his soccer fix, people will need a roof over their heads so the demand is relatively inelastic ....people are willing to pay anywhere between 20-60% of their income - if it goes higher, they will find alternatives like staying with their parents etc. As the population size increases, so does the demand and level of desperation for housing. URA is like the owners of EPL - to maximise revenue from these land sales they more developers to bid so that price of land goes up. If we only have private housing, and no public housing life in Singapore will be miserable - we will all be slaves housing and a large number will be destitute because they cannot afford it....private developers will never build rental or low cost housing. The places where a purely private housing market can work is where the cost of land is so cheap that the cost of a house is roughly the cost of building a house....if you're poor you build your own house which was what some people did in the 60s when the Singapore population was 1.5M and land was plentiful. Public housing exists to stop us from turning into 'slaves'. The more of our income we pay for housing, the more enslaved we become to housing loans and have less of our income on other things in life. For this reason public housing should be priced at a certain level of our income - if income grows by 10%, public housing should go up by 10%....any more translates to a lower quality of life. As long as the price rise roughly reflects the increase in income, linking HDB prices to resale market helps to take care of other things like price differentiation due to location and other intangible factors like jobs security which leads to people willing to take up slightly higher loans. The whole situation deteriorated due to the large influx of people and ballooning of income gap. When you have demand for a scarce but essential resource from a very unequal income distribution, the result is a lot of misery....rising poverty and poorer living conditions for many people. If you can, you fix the income gap and slow the influx of people....but if you can't and don't do that, you have to start supporting the people who have fallen due no fault of their own (the victims of govt policy!) by supplying cheaper housing - something that this govt has failed to do. There is plenty of anger going around as people begin to understand that all that we are seeing the consequences of govt policies and the system they put in place....are we better off today than we were 15 years ago?