Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Economist : A PR problem

The warning signs were all there for the past 8-10 years. The PAP ignored the concerns of the people and it is now too late to turn back - the PAP will have to face the resentment of the citizens adversely affected by their policy at the coming elections.

I sense the ground has shifted on this single issue. Along with the rising cost of living, income gap, stagnant wages and structural unemployment, there is rising disquiet and unease among the population that is not going to disappear due to the PAP's usual pre-election 'sweetening'.

The PAP govt pursued a path that lacked common sense and a large segment of the population have suffered due to their bad policies.
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[Link to article in The Economist]
Immigration becomes the hot political issue in a model city-state
AP

A bit too exotic for Singapore’s comfort?AT CHINA’s 60th anniversary bash last month, Zhang Yuanyuan, a China-born, permanent resident of Singapore, was caught on camera professing her love for her native country. The clip caused a storm in the island state; it was the latest sign of resentment towards incomers and evidence that immigration is becoming the city-state’s dominant political issue.

Faced with an ageing population and low fertility, Singapore’s government has long courted foreigners to plug gaps in the workforce. In 1990, citizens made up 86% of Singapore’s 3m people. Today, the share is 64% of 5m-odd. More than one in three people are foreigners (permanent residents, known as PRs, and non-residents).

In the past, immigrants were concentrated at the top or bottom of the jobs ladder, performing work that Singaporeans could not or did not want to do. Today, foreigners compete on almost every rung. Some, like geneticists, bring in useful skills. Others—it is feared—displace local skills and depress wages at the bottom.

Such fears are especially sharp during a recession. Critics say PRs enjoy the benefits of citizenship without all the responsibilities, such as national service for men (first-generation PRs are generally exempt). Immigrants are said to mix less with Singaporeans than they used to. The rise in numbers means many foreign groups have reached critical mass, producing little ethnic enclaves—the government’s bête noire. “I am Singaporean and tired of service staff who can only speak Mandarin” is a group on Facebook, the social-networking site, with more than 10,000 members.

High immigration has coincided with a widening income gap. Singapore’s Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, rose from 0.444 in 2000 to 0.481 in 2008—higher than in China and America. The contrast between the glitzy downtown and the “heartlands” is glaring, and more damaging in tiny, dense Singapore than it would be in a big country, says Paulin Straughan of the National University of Singapore.

To defuse the pressure, the prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, says Singapore will slow down the intake of migrants while accentuating the privileges of citizenship. Meanwhile, the government has plonked S$10m ($7m) into the new National Integration Council (NIC), which will try to promote interactions between different groups. It will not be easy, as the government admits. “The NIC recognises that integration is a long-term effort, and may take years before success is apparent,” says Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the head of the NIC and minister for community development, youth and sports.

But Singaporeans care less about fuzzy notions of integration than their own jobs, says Chung Wai-Keung of the Singapore Management University. He wants employment laws rewritten to favour locals. But this would contradict the government’s commitment to an open economy. And the dominance of the ruling People’s Action Party means that in Singapore—unlike many countries—anti-immigrant sentiment cannot easily gain a strong political voice. Expect no drastic policy changes.

These ripples are part of Singapore’s transformation from a micro-managed melting pot into a cosmopolitan city-state. Before the internet, it is hard to imagine the debate that raged around the hapless Ms Zhang. Now, many Singaporeans defend her. In the new Singapore, it is all right to love one’s country—even if it is China.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Incredible Selfishness of the Old People

The Old People and the Baby Boomers in Singapore know that us post 65ers are extremely worried about the future.

We are unable to buy homes, or if we do, we are barely to meet payments, or we are stressed about our children who are under even more stress. Birthrates and marriage rates are extremely low because we don’t feel secure or confident about the future. All the old people know a lot of post-65ers want to emigrate. Many have seen their own children emigrate.

Recently I talked to some old people (60+ years). One said said “luckily my generation and the New Citizens will outnumber your generation.” (IE PAP will win)

I find that incredibly selfish.

LUCKILY?

Do the old people realize that this country needs a future?

Do they think that prices can keep rising forever without somebody suffering?

Do they think we can endure infinite stress?

Have these old people thought about leaving a country where their descendants are happy?

Have they even considered people of their generation who have fallen behind?

No! All they care about is their comfort! Oh, my home price rise, I feel wealthy, ho say liao.

The successful Old People now control all the wealth, all the property, the businesses, hold the top jobs, etc. They’re happy to have a system where social mobility is low, since they can stay longer in power and draw greater wealth (not as if they need it).

Do the Old People care about their less successful peers? Everywhere you can see seventy and eighty year old people collecting garbage, cleaning toilets, selling tissue paper.

What is the Old People’s response? Pass a law to force children to support. Oh, if no children or children are dead or cannot be found? Too bad lor, work harder hor, otherwise we replace you with a $300 per month FT.

How can you have a country where so many people are priced out and forced out to seek opportunities abroad, or who emigrate because they can’t endure anymore?

The Old People have built a very opportunistic country. Die is your own business. Social darwinism is the mantra. Compassion is a vulgarity. You leave, no big deal, we import more FT. You stay, we import more FT. You can compete with seven billion people. Top world salaries, elites give themselves. Third world salaries, peasants have to accept.

The baby boomers and Old People, what characterizes them? Mindless greed, predatory mindsets, sociopathic lack of compassion, small mindedness without vision and infinite selfishness.

Everytime they open their mouths, they talk about money: how much they could have earned in some hypothetical situation, how much they want to earn, how much they want. They, them, their pockets, their benefits.

What about society? About the people? About those who have fallen behind?

Is this attitude sustainable for a country?

Even though some of us post-65ers do pretty well, do we want to stay? Do we dare to stay? What if our kids fall behind? What if they don’t want to chase money and success, but prefer to live more meaningful lives?

Even if our parents can leave us good class bungalows, do we want our children to grow up as members of some hereditary aristocracy, partying while their countrymen starve? What kind of monsters will we have bred?

Is this Louis XIV’s monarchy, or is this a modern city state with elections and citizen participation?

Anonymous said...

A country is for you to Live in, not Make a Living From And Get Out. It is for you to feel at home in. It is where your friends and family live. It is a Big Family.

It seems that years of peace have caused the ruling elites to forget that there are times when sacrifice is needed.

People will sacrifice for a place where they feel happy. They won’t sacrifice for a place where they make money.

Singapore is not about belonging. It is about making money, maximizing gain, pursuing economic growth like a religion (regardless of whether that is sustainable or ecologically sound). People in Singapore are always replaceable – the door is perpetually open.

Is it a society where people have a real heartfelt stake?

When the old people are in their 80s and all their kids have been forced abroad, who will defend this country?

Will it be the New Citizens? They came to Singapore to make money, not settle in a home. They wouldn’t dare invest their lives here anyway, since they know you will be abandoned when old. New Citizens will balik kampung.

The old people know quite well who is responsible for the high inflation, job scarcity, decrease in social mobility, social stresses, lack of a safety net, lack of transparency and accountability, the stinginess and greed of elites. But they don’t want to hold that party responsible and vote in a strong opposition.

They have had decades of chances, and they rejected a system of checks and balances everytime. They ignored political and social issues that affect us all. They refused to participate in the nation; they refused to take responsibility for decision making; they refused to support the few visionaries and daring people who stood for alternatives. They let the PAP entrench its power, violate constitutional rights, change the constitution as it saw fit.

The old people prefer stability, certainty. They pushed the looming problems with CPF and lack of social freedoms and entrenched political elites to the next generation. And they like seeing asset values rise.

How much longer can it last?

Yes, you can perpetually bring in Foreign Talents and flaunt them in the papers. You can keep showing off statistics about how many Foreigners want to pour into Singapore. But the Old People have turned Singapore into a revolving door hotel. People enter, people leave.

Good luck when there is a real crisis. Nobody is going to stay. The much vaunted Foreign Talents are going to run road. Everyone who can will leave.

You can accumulate all the wealth in the world, but you will be left with nothing if there is a crisis. Property values will plunge if a SARs-like pandemic or global recession takes place. All the foreign peasants you import will not have the purchasing power to support your precious property prices.

Selfish old people, you have driven out your children so try begging your foreign maids to take care of you. Your children will have homes and children abroad to take care of. They’re not coming back in a crisis.

Anonymous said...

It is fat hope n wishful thinking tt d gahmen will suffer fr the citizen resentment at d next GE.

With ALL d msm controlled by gahmen, with 24/7 of brainwashing propaganda, Education on d perfect gahmen we have like tripatite etc, drama depicting d pre-60s hellish suffering contrast w d heavenly present, d voters will become compliant zombies.

I asked a friend recently @ CSJ, she described him exactly as d media had painted him. All r brainwashed n can't b reversed. Gahmen will continue 2 rule w arrogance w no regard for commoners

Anonymous said...

Lucky

It is incorrect to say that PAP ignored the concerns of the people.

The few months before the elections they will slowdown/hold the approvals of work permits and PRs until only approve after the elections.

The usual pre-election 'sweetening' has never failed before and the 66.6% are more desperate, dumber and cheaper than ever.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. Go on and dream. In your wildest fantasy only will that happen. Meanwhile everything is fine as can be.

Anonymous said...

lucky, you have summarized exactly the frustration we the (true) citizens of singapore have with the pap government these past few years.

the lost of sense of nation which was built up over 50 years.

lky may be the one who made it happened but it was built up by everyone and he (or his dragon prince) does not have the right to destroy it as they please.

keep up the good writing!

Anonymous said...

Small country much easier to control.

The population profile is quite homogeneous, that is the rich and poor are all over, unlike big countiries where there are urban and rural areas.

That's why every contested seat at elections the PAP has a consistent 60 over % of the votes.

The middle class and above is about 60 over % in every GRC and single wards.

That's why the opposition have not much hope. No countryside or slum areas for them to win.

Anonymous said...

One more resentment-- ordinary Singaporean who saw their hard earned savings wiped out while investing in toxic structure and misleading products approved by MAS due Lehman bankruptcy whereas investors in Hong Kong are compensated as the government protect the investors.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, what if you are wrong about the voters? Something deep in my skin says that the voters would bring the lky regime back in power in the next election. just wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry.
sporean are innocent and naive.

Anonymous said...

"""""The Incredible Selfishness of the Old People

The Old People and the Baby Boomers in Singapore know that us post 65ers are extremely worried about the future. """""

Do you know a lot of older people are jobless and "moneyless"?????

Anonymous said...

Fret not as the old one cannot live forever. The day of reckoning will come.

Anonymous said...

"When the old people are in their 80s and all their kids have been forced abroad, who will defend this country? "

PAP can throw money at Gurkhas to protect them lor...money money money...PAP is all about the money

Anonymous said...

""""""""""The Incredible Selfishness of the Old People

The Old People and the Baby Boomers in Singapore know that us post 65ers are extremely worried about the future. """""

Do you know a lot of older people are jobless and "moneyless"?????"""""

I know. But these are LKY's favourite fan club. They die die still vote PAP. They don't care about the future. They're f-king selfish.

Anonymous said...

I have a PR problem too:

I totally resent the fact that PRs who have committed crimes and been sentenced to jail are allowed to remain in Singapore upon their release from jail.

Worse still, they are eligible to be released from jail EARLY on some Work Release Programme, to compete for jobs against Singaporeans.

This is a sign that the "Foreign Talent" policy has gone all haywire!

With the imminent opening of casinos against the background of a huge foreign presence, I wonder if Singapore will see even more PR ex-convicts on the street.

SicknTired said...

I know it's illegal for even one person to physically stage a protest in Singapore...but is it possible to for us to stage one online?

I was thinking, maybe we can start a movement online, appealing to all Singaporeans to STOP PURCHASING RESALE FLATS until the markets teach the greedy ones and the government a good lesson on inflation control.

Anonymous said...

With the control of the MSM and the mass conversion of PR to citizen, nothing will change, we will be fighting for jobs.

It is pure BS when they said there are more jobs than Singaporean so we gave so to others. Hey this is a open market, it is all about supplier and demand. If there is more jobs than Singaporean then pay goes up. It will reach a point where support and demand more or less balance.. Some companies will move out due to the higher cost, some will stay, this is life.

What they are doing by introducing more FT to balance the supply and demand, pay goes down... Still some companies will move out and some will stay.. It does not make any diff for us, maybe the different is for them. Better GDP, better bonus??

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that people are happy their home prices have shot up through the roof.

We are not a big country. We are not NY city, where you can sell an expensive city apartment and go move to big house in the suburbs or in the country.

All the money you make in the condo en-bloc sales goes to buying a new expensive home. If not, the government will claw back your profits by making your kids and grandkids pay more for their future homes.

Oh ya. I forgot. You are a selfish old bastard. That's why you don't really care that your kids, or our kids, have to pay more for their HDB flats in the future.

Thanks for voting for PAP! You have basically been voting against giving our future generation a viable future in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Benefits of being a PR:

1) No NS liability
2) No reservist liability
3) Much more likely to get FT-scholarship to NUS/NTU/SMU
4) No need to support family in Singapore (can undercut locals in job market)
5) S'pore govt is desperate for more FTs! FTs better treated than locals

Disadvantages of being a Singaporean:
1) NS liability
2) Reservist liability
3) Very unlikely to get scholarship to NUS/NTU/SMU, even if results are as good as FT
Scholarhips for FT/PR students, bank loan for Singapore students
4) Need bigger pay to support family here and expensive housing loans
5) S'pore govt give preferential treatment to FT in jobs, scholarships.

Singaporeans are idiots or just too selfish, to keep voting in a government who is openly in favour of FTs over locals.

Anonymous said...

the ground has shifted, but has it shifted enough to make a difference?

with no opinion polls, it is hard to say. i will be pleased if opposition gets 40% support and gain a few more seats. anything more is a bonus

Anonymous said...

I am disilluioned by what is happening here and all over the world. Recent APEC Meet is more like MAFIA Families annual meeting. Why I say they are Mafias is exactly that and the difference between them is that Govts are more organized. I recommend anyone to watch FKN Newz where you can enjoy some hilarious news and see a lot of truths in there.

I have given up on believing that annointing any political party, be it the present govt or their opponents will do us any good. Take your chances and make the most of what you are capable of and enjoy your life and securing your own future. If you are capable, maybe you can be a member of the elites just like most of my very wealthy relatives. Forget about trying to right the wrongs because being a small city, our so-called leaders are helpless and are themselves just pawns of the bigger nations.

Anonymous said...

Lucy said

The warning signs were all there for the past 8-10 years. The PAP ignored the concerns of the people and it is now too late to turn back - the PAP will have to face the resentment of the citizens adversely affected by their policy at the coming elections.

You are right about the warning signs.

You are right about the resent but, if your statement meant that the PAP will be punished at the polls...er frankly that is not going to happen except in a token fashion (drop in percentage point) but not in a manner that will shake the PAP.

You see Singaporean are, hate to say this, not the most savvy people when in comes to politics. They are good at complaining but won't left a finger when it come to the crunch. Otherwise, they would not be stuck in the situation they got now.

Anonymous said...

Dear All and to Anon @17/11/09 20:29

Do not blame the Old People. It is not true that we are not worried about our future. Silently we are very worried but there is little we can do but to vote them out. Moreover, the window of opportunity for migrating is closed to us.

If you are young, migrate to other country. Why? You already knew the answers. Even Mudland is better than Sinkland.

Anonymous said...

I am a baby boomer and I will do what is right. I will vote out the PAP for the mess they have created.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans by and large are used to comfort over the last 30 years. We like air-con environment, we have maids to take care of household chores and childminding, we leave dirty dishes food courts and simply walk away, etc. Very few Singaporeans are involved in tough, dirty and dangerous jobs these days. We have outsourced those to migrant labour decades ago.

Change entails risks and that is not comfortable. I don't mean to be a wet blanket but I think the outcome of the coming election will be much different from the one before. Life may be tougher than 5 years ago but overall it is still tolerable. So waht if it takes 10 more years to pay off your HDB. Well, that's better than not having a house. Less money in hand means few overseas trips or forgoing the new car or LV bag. Hey! These are things 80% of the population of the world can only dream of.

So for those hoping for change, don't get your hopes too high. One has to be realistic. Everything is relative.

Anonymous said...

Singapore citizens are mostly a stupid lot.

I have witnessed many old folks who jumped with joy when they read about esalating HDB prices,for them,immediatelty it translate into lovly image of their 3 room,4 room,or 5 room piegon holes into hundred of thousands of profit.

Even though I know many have children or grand children barly earning S$2,000.00 a month and still facing the prospect of random termination or retrenchment.and who have difficulty of buying their first HDB.

If they are not stupid(than the others)what are they?

Peter said...

I am a "baby boomer" who saw and live through it all.I currently stay in a 3 roomer fully paid and worth $300k+ with agents knocking on my door or flyers in my letterbox to cash out,"THAN WHAT" upgrade and be in debts again?migrate to neighbouring countries to stretch my $$$ or to 1st world countries if they will accept me.Remember, 1st world countries if they accept people like us will throw us out without hesitation should we not contribute to their economy and be a burden to their welfare state if we are only PR. Unless you are lucky enough to qualify to be their 2nd class citizens.I know of contemporaries who migrate yearning to return. Lets look at the big picture in a small city not a STATE.Living within our means i.e not dreaming the 5Cs, we have 1.food court almost 24hrs,polyclinics within 2 bus tops or walking distance or 5min taxi ride if we permit ourselves some luxury without having to own a car and living in hock.Community clubs offering most leisures comparable to private clubs without having to pay an arm or leg.Hospitals within easy reach 24hrsx7daysx364&1/4days.
Incredibly selfish old people???or ordinary hardworking realist living within their means to provide for a family and home for their love ones who may or may not leave us to fend for ourselves when the time comes.All we have is a little dot which seems to be stifling at times but brother that is all we have.

Anonymous said...

UNDERPAID, UNEMPLOYED, OLD also means DEATH.
Come on ....buy a $2 brick please.

Pullovers said...

I was doing my honors year project in ntu where I had the joy of working with a dude from China doing his masters there. One day, I asked him to take on a pink Singaporean ic. And guess what he said. This is gonna blow your mind. "Singapore is too small. You cannot protect a point defence which is surrounded by mostly water around it. China is big and more secure." He left Singapore 3 years ago.

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