Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sylvia Lim : Economic Growth Must Benefit Singaporeans...

Sylvia is excellent!

Sylvia Lim raised important points that I've written about in this blog very well:

  • Whatever economic strategy or growth pursued by the govt, it has to improve the quality of life of ordinary Singaporeans.
  • In recent years, profits as a share of GDP has risen to 45%
  • GDP may not be a good measure of economic performance and social progress.
  • Growing inequality in our society is a serious problem.
  • The massive import of foreign labor has lead to stresses and problems. The idea that we have to expand population to be competitive may be flawed.

A few weeks ago I wrote that the ESC report did not put the improving the quality of life of Singaporeans as its ultimate goal. The goal of the ESC was to achieve GDP growth (didn't we already accomplish that in the past few decades) and this may not lead to a rise in living standards of ordinary Singaporeans. The PAP fixation with GDP growth has led to the worse income inequality in developed countries and a increased pace of life that many Singaporeans now find difficult to cope with. However, it will be difficult for the PAP to change and put the well being of ordinary Singaporeans as its top priority - over the years its other interests have grown, it now has a vast network of GLCs to take care of and the GLCs serve to benefit a small number of elites who occupy top positions and are closely linked to PAP.


Anonymous said...

I am an engineer. And I noticed that despite GDP going up, salaries have not.

The starting pay for an engineer today is no better than that of 5 years ago. In fact, starting pay is going down, due to oversupply from local universities, and importing of cheap PMETs from third world countries.

GDP growth seems to benefit the politicians most, since they are the only group of people who receive a hefty bonus that is directly linked to GDP growth.

My pay won't go up as a result of GDP growth. In fact, it will go down, thanks to the relentless influx of PMETs, whose only real talent is being cheap, not productive.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

A superb speech.

"Sir, we should not dismiss increasing inequalities as inevitable.

While some inequality is needed to encourage ambition, greater inequalities have been shown to be linked to higher divorce and crime.

If inequalities are serious and prolonged, it will reduce intergenerational mobility leading to children born into poverty with little hope of getting out...

...Wide economic inequality fosters social breakdown by boosting insecurity and anxiety, leading to prejudice between the classes, rampant consumerism and all manner of mental and physical suffering." - NCMP Sylvia Lim

The key question here is: how much inequality is too much?

There is a positive feedback mechanism, a "hedonic treadmill" if you will, for the super-rich to continue to demand more and more, sometimes at the expense of the middle class and the poor.

If we already have the highest paid millionaire ministers in the world, far more than even the US President, why do they still need to increase their pay by 8.8% - even when Singapore has barely pulled out of the recession?

When will they ever have enough?

If they cannot learn to exercise restraint, then Singaporean voters will have to exercise the restraint for them.

Anonymous said...

"Sylvia Lim : Economic Growth Must Benefit Singaporeans..."

Very difficult to do that but very easy to import foreigners and also to win elections.

If you were PAP, would you do the same?

Lim Leng Hiong said...

""Sylvia Lim : Economic Growth Must Benefit Singaporeans..."

Very difficult to do that but very easy to import foreigners and also to win elections.

If you were PAP, would you do the same?" - Anon 08:42

In other words, they should pay themselves the highest salaries in the world AND expect to do the easiest things just to win elections?

Anonymous said...

PAP ministers have insisted on a minimum wage for themselves - to the tune of millions per year.

PAP ministers shrug off income inequality because it does not affect them at all. It only affect the masses.

PAP ministers are in this job solely for the money. That is why they don't show much interest in protecting the welfare of Singaporeans. They only want to push up the GDP at all cost, to ensure that they can get a bigger bonus.

And no, I certainly don't consider our PAP MPs to be talents. They are highly unproductive, incompetent and are only Yes-Mans.

Anonymous said...

"...overnight,Singaporean felt strangers in their own neighbourhood..."

I can attest to this. Everywhere I go, there are foreigners around. On the public transports, at workplace, at foodcourt, around my neighbourhood, in shopping malls... I don't have million dollar salary, but I do know from my secondary school geography textbook that excessive immigration will result in host of social problems.

Kudos to WP for able to reflect the common feeling on the ground.

Anonymous said...

"My, O my Singapore, what exactly are we voting for? What's not exactly permitted is prohibited?"

Anonymous said...

To think that people still trust these guys. They have kept everything that was good for themselves and have asked the people to make sacrifice in the name of the country. Minimum wage (Or world highest wage) for themselves. The abolished the pension scheme but yet retained it for themselves. Are these people who are showing lesdership by example. They are nothing but self serving, money minded leeches sucking on the people's blood

Anonymous said...

Lim Leng Hiong,

I'm losing faith that we can outdo the PAP. There are just too many people who have not had critical consciousness as part of their education.

The last time I bought Straits Times or chance on its site was in 2004.

Anonymous said...

Sylvia Lim can say whatever she wants. But if the PAP doesn't want to listen, what can we do?

Anonymous said...

An excellent showing from Sylvia! This is the type of minister and MP that I expect.

Anon: 4/3/10 07:58
FYI, I am an engineer too who graduated 20 years ago. My starting pay was $2100 then and last year Engineers' starting salary was going around $2100-2500 in the private sector. With national productivity dropping for the last 6 years, it is little wonder that wages cannot go up.

Anonymous said...

"PAP ministers have insisted on a minimum wage for themselves - to the tune of millions per year."

I like the way you phrase this. It really hits where it hurts. Sweet irony.

Anonymous said...

This obsession with GDP growth at all costs is because MaiHum decided to peg his and his cronies' salaries to a particular statistic a few election ago.

One bad decision cascades to this messy situation.

Now that all of his staff's eyes are still fixated on the bad target, it is in none of their interest to fix this sinking ship.

Best of all, MaiHum still isnt aware or bothers to do anything to fix this bad reward system.

Can too much Hum can cause hepatitis in one's brain?

Anonymous said...

to reverse the economic policies is also disastrous for the country and its people.

if sylvia laments about increase in crime and divorce, it will be worse if we follow her advocation.

so...CHHHAAARGE AHEAD, skin the fat cats while we are at it, and be kind and help those at the bottom as we "change".

Lim Leng Hiong said...

"Lim Leng Hiong,

I'm losing faith that we can outdo the PAP. There are just too many people who have not had critical consciousness as part of their education.

The last time I bought Straits Times or chance on its site was in 2004." - Anon 11:21

The ruling party will change or be changed.

Any system has its strengths and weaknesses, but what is almost universally despised by people is double standards.

Look at the free market system that the government seems to think highly of. How does the free market correct against excesses?

By failure!

Product fail standards? Cannot meet sales target? Cashflow goes negative? CEO reputation plunges due to scandal?

*BOOT!* Bye bye, next better player.

Take for example the investment bank Goldman Sachs, an organization where employees can also make million dollar salaries like our ministers. Sure they can make loads of money, but their turnover rate is 1,500 employees a year!

Likewise politicians who peg their pay to the top of the private sector, who expect to be paid the highest salaries in the world, must ALSO expect to be subject to the highest level of accountability in the world.

Fugitive on the loose?

*BOOT!* Bye bye next better player.

Economic prediction wrong?

*BOOT!* Bye bye next better player.

No such thing as raising salaries in the midst of a recession; in fact, in a truly "free market style" political system, if a leader proclaimed that a country will not enter a recession, but in reality the country became the FIRST in the region to enter a recession, he will be forced by his colleagues to take a bow and say sayonara.

Want a less stressful lifestyle with less competition and public scrutiny over your every move?

Then DON'T demand million dollar salaries!

Practicing double standards by having socialism for government leaders and free market for the rest of the people is an unsustainable move.

lim said...

Good points raised by Sylvia Lim, but pap will never admit that their meritocracy policy is a failure..

Just like 2 is enough, it was not a failure, just too successful..

Anonymous said...

PAP is suffering from the disease of luxury. That's why they're getting complacent. Apart from lying, condescending, insulting and calling voters "daft", they are now resorting to bullying us. I have never met scholars so adept at red herrings, hasty generalisations, and analogical reductions in their reasonings. Who are they kidding here? Are they even convince of what they are saying? Tsk! tsk!

They are too comfortable now. I don't think they are going to chnage.

Anonymous said...

U all are a bunch of NATO(No Action Talk Only) & NB(No Balls) ppl.

Next election (with all the walkovers) we will still see the same bunch of nonsense talkers. No need to vote.

So do you expect any changes here? Forget it!

U want chgs, go elsewhere. Many youngsters hv done so. Good for them.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

There is often a recurring misconception in native Singaporeans' understanding of what Singapore is about.

The constant underlying assumption among many bloggers and commentators is that Singapore is a country build on the Singapore Pledge.

As I'm leaving Singapore, I feel the onus is on me to rectify this erroneous presupposition about what Singapore is about.

Singapore is not a country. It is a city state.

It is not simply a state with a group of 3 million native Singaporeans.

It is a corporative state. Read this as your assumption when you analyse the literature you are reading and then everything will be crystal clear for you.

Anonymous said...

By the time you realise it is by definition a fascist corporative state run on the crude engines of capitalism, I would have left the Singapore soil.

Good luck, guys. Best of luck. I'm starting a new life in NZ.

Anonymous said...

make sure you bring extra pair of socks to keep your little didi warm

Anonymous said...

Mr Anon 4/3/10 21:20

That is so lame... PAP trolls are really lacking in standard these days.

Anonymous said...


don't lie, you also a troll LOL

SG Girl Next Door said...

Went for an interview, I asked the employer what's the salary of the position I was applying. He instead asked me to state my expectation.

So I humbly stated $2000+ (a min. amount I believe I could still survive if I watch my spending). However he replied:"No that's too high. I can get a good English speaking XX (a FT from a regional country) for $1000+.

What can I say?

Anonymous said...

Anon 23:00,

Are you on medication or something? We have better things to do with our time, you know.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, why are there repeated comments of "PAP has lost touch with citizens" and "PAP made mistakes with meriticracy/foreign policy" etc. Same line of thinking for many pro-opposition blogs.

PAP has not lost touch with citizens. It was always about them and them only, never about citizens. Therefore, they can't lose touch if they were never in touch in the first place.

PAP has not made any mistakes with meritocracy or foreign policy. See above point. Nothing happens by accident or mistake with governments. All is done according to plan.

Stop perpetuating the lies that PAP made mistakes. There was never any mistake.

lim said...

@anon 5/3/10 08:17

pap do make mistakes, just that they are HONEST mistakes..

Anonymous said...

"Stop perpetuating the lies that PAP made mistakes. There was never any mistake."

Agreed. It is deliberate action by LKY and his cronies. Never a mistake. Even the gambling in financial crisis is deliberate act. Losing hundred billions is not mistake as long as it is honest one done by the Lee dynasty.

Anonymous said...

singapore is hopeless as long as those civil servants still keep saying that vote is not secret, that's why they must vote pap to their jobs. just few days ago, my colleague said she must vote pap cos her husband working in air force.

Anonymous said...

No worries, she'll sing a different tune when her husband gets "retired' early without pension to "save costs". Singaporeans are stupid. They cannot see further than the tip of their noses. PAP don't care about your vote - they have spent all their time thinking about how to stay in power with or without your vote. Scared what? Vote for the opposition and vote out the bloodsucker PAP!

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deshio said...

who says civil servants cannot vote for the opposition? I can proudly say I did 4 years ago and I still have my job.

Hopefully a new wave of the young electorate can create something significant in the next GE.

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Evelyn said...

Dear Disaffected Singaporeans,
You need change...Sylvia has spoken for you and would now need your voices in the ballot boxes to reinforce her enquiry on the government.

Do you not have a sense how arragont our government has become?

How many more Mas Selamat must escape before the HA Minister can be accountable? On another front - According to the government, Temasek recovered the billions they lost during the last financial crisis tyhat rocked US. But, can they really be exonerated of irresponsibility. If they had
heeded the warning signs of impending melt-down or had they been good enough for their jobs, then those bad investments would not have been made at all. Had that been the case, the money which they government said they made up for the losses, would have been profits instead. Nut who was in charge?

So, people don't kid yourselves anymore. You have as much rights as even the president and prime minister of Singapore. Put that right in the box where it matters,

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