The other day Minister Tharman said the PAP govt has set for itself a goal of raising the median income from $2400 to $3100 (real income) by 2020. When I first heard of it I wrote on my blog that this goal isn't so meaningful because it says nothing about what our quality of life will be like and that matters much more than a numeric target. What is the point if price of housing, medical care, and COE goes up even faster, and buses become more crowded and stress levels go up further. Even as a numeric target the rise represents a mere 2.5% increase per year - given our GDP growth is set to exceed China's this year...and if grows by 6-7% a year, this type of median income increase can only widen our income gap. Despite my negativity about this whole target thing, I actually found out that I've been far less cynical than other Singaporeans. The other day while talking to a couple of friends, I now understand that many Singaporeans believe the govt will achieve this target simply by handing out PRs and citizenship to richer foreigners to push up the median income...the income of current Singaporeans can remain stagnant or sink and this target can still be achieved. The govt has not articulated how it intends to achieve this target and the means is more important than the ends in this case. When SM Goh became PM, he at least had a plan that can be considered a vision - Swiss standard of living. We all laugh at where we are today relative to the goal of his govt but at least the target setting was very clear so that we know how far off we have wondered. Without a clear vision of how life will be for Singaporeans, the current PAP govt muddles along telling you that housing is still affordable, your public transport system is world class and we have good affordable heathcare. 10 years from now where-ever today's Singaporeans end up, success can be declared....$3100? No even sure if it is enough today for a man to start a small family with 2 kids and be able to retire.
A few days ago, the Swiss President came to Singapore and said this about the Swiss vandal Fricker case:
"It's your decision, but the perception in our country is not a positive one because for a long time, we have moved from such penalties to other than physical punishment" - Swiss President[Link]
Do you know why we have to cane people for graffiti? Do Singaporeans have such deep hatred for graffiti that we have to punish people more for graffiti? Does graffiti cause us so much harm that Fricker deserves physical punishment?
Our Vandalism Act was written in 1966 before graffiti became fashionable yet it contains an interesting law that says you will get mandatory caning if you use 'indelible ink' vs erasable ink. If Fricker has drawn his graffiti with non-permanent markers, he would be in less trouble than he is today. So he is being punished for the difficulty of cleaning up the graffiti - it which case, a fairer punishment for him would be to clean or pay for the cleaning of the trains. Why the cane?
"The Vandalism Act 1966 was originally passed to curb the spread of communist graffiti in Singapore during the period following Singaporean independence.
Destroying or damaging any public property without the written authority of government officials, statutory boards or armed forces lawfully present in Singapore are in violation of the terms of the Act. " - Serving History[Link]
Our Vandalism Act is so harsh because the communists defaced public property to spread propaganda and there was a political purpose to suppress them with this harsh act. 44 years later, with the fall of communism we still keep the act and use it on mischievious foreigners with too much time on their hands. Yes, the laws have been kept unchanged and harsh when it no longer serves the same purpose.
Recently, the NSP got into some trouble for selling newsletters[Link]. The purpose of the illegal hawking law is to prevent unlicensed hawkers from selling food because it is potentially unhygenic or illegal hawking of goods without paying rent thereby competing unfairly against shopowners who pay tax and rent or cluttering public spaces. The NSP violated nobe of these and was fined for not having a license to sell its newsletters. Licenses are only granted to people 45 years or older and are jobless. So unless our opposition parties recruit people who are jobless and above 45, they cannot sell newsletters to the public. This is an interesting use of a law created for some other purpose.
If we are just perserving the status quo and we accept things as they are, we will never progress very far from where we are today - the examples I give are related to the laws of the land but there are many aspects of the our socio-economic and political system we are told to accept that we shouldn't if we want to better our lives. There is no bold vision to look forward and no desire to improve the current system. 10 years from now what change can you expect?...