Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Happy New Year : What 2013 may bring...

The year 2011 ended with a dramatic breakdown of our MRT system that woke everyone up to the urgent need to improve our public transport. On the last day of 2012, I took the circle line and was delayed for more than half an hour in the morning due to a "track fault".  In the afternoon, there was a problem with the EW line when a breakdown occurred at Redhill MRT[Link]. On the same day, there was also a disruption on the NEL - what a way to end the year. I wrote about the problems with our transport system 6 years ago, identifying the privatisation of our public transport and the pressure for profit to please shareholders as factors that will lead to decline in service quality. Unless we can change the model, we will not see the dramatic improvement of service quality needed to lift the quality of life of most Singaporeans - with rising COE and more middleclass Singaporeans forced to take public transport,  there will be rising dissatisfaction over unmet expectations  The problems with our public transport system is perhaps emblematic of the socio-economic issues faced by Singapore in the recent and coming years. Our old solutions to problems become new problems and we find ourselves unable to solve the new class of problems because we applied old solutions for too long ignoring the deep and far reaching negative consequences.

The problem with Singapore is that suddenly, we became a one-trick pony......Our one trick was bring in more cheap foreign labour; we will increase GDP every year. And that is true, but it’s not the only trick in the book — (yet) it became so convenient for us that we used it all the time.” - AWARE executive director Corinna Lim.[Link]

This year ended with Singapore nearly entering recession. Our growth has stagnated because of our high dependence on cheap foreign labour for growth . The govt introduced mild curbs to foreign imported labor but our economy needs high level of foreign imported labor to to keep our economy growing because we are "out of new tricks". The busineess community in the form of  Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) and Singapore European Chamber of Commerce (SECC), claimed that Singapore will "lose its competive edge" unless the floodgates are again re-opened. The business lobby wants more of the old solution and to play the same one easy trick. No where else in the developed world do businesses enjoy such a liberal foreign worker policy yet the business lobby demands the floodgates stay open[Link]. The interests of the business lobby are not just narrow, they are short term in nature. In 2012, Singapore's economy was showing signs of overheating with inflation hitting 5.7% in Nov 2012[Link], business rentals, housing prices and COE breaking new records. If the Singapore had done what the business lobby wanted easing the curbs on foreign labor, we would have even higher inflation and the type of GDP growth that brings little benefit, if not negative effects, for ordinary Singaporeans.

In 2010, minimum wage [Link] was proposed as solutions for our income inequality and low wage worker problem. This was quickly rejected by the govt, govt-controlled union and the business lobby. Their claim was such schemes would lead to unemployment and it is undesirable to interfere with the free market.  A pro-business govt with controlled unions and a business community just cannot get some of these bold but workable ideas through to solve a problem that will polarize our society and threaten us in the longer term. In 2011, the Hong Kong govt decided to adopt minimum wage legislation - the pro-business lobby there screamed that thousands of businesses would shut down, unemployment would rise, inflation would spin out of control and Hong Kong would become uncompetitive. The Hong Kong govt fortunately had enough resolve to overcome the resistance from the business lobby and boldly implemented the measure. The legislation pushed the wages of lowest paid workers by a whopping 28%. One year after implementation none of the deleterious effects has been seen - unemployment remained the same, inflation rate is lower than Singapore's and the Hong Kong economy kept growing. Economists generally conclude that the implementation is a success[Link]and the Hong Kong govt intends to increase minimum wage by another 7% in May next year[Hong Kong increases min wage] benefiting 320,000 workers.

There has been little progress in tackling the income gap which in now near dangerous levels[Link]. This year our GINI index (after govt transfers) did not improve from 2011 [Link]. Despite all the govt publicity surrounding GST vouchers, Workfare, U-Save etc, these transfers knock off only 0.02 from our GINI index which remains 0.452 after transfers (0.473 before transfers). Some countries reduce their GINI by 0.1 to 0.2 through govt transfers[Link]. Although the income gap did not get worse, maintaining it at these levels has harmful long term effects including increased poverty and allowing the growth of an permanent underclass to take hold. The govt limit what it does today to face the consequences of its inaction further down - the problem will become harder and more expensive to solve.

The issue is not whether we can solve any of these problems quickly - they have become entrenched and difficult - but Singaporeans need to know we can get on the right path.  But 2012 is another year the PAP govt demonstrated that it cannot change fast enough to overcome the problems we face. The ideological shackles, the old formulas and the hard truths of one man, keeps the govt on a narrow path afraid to walk an alternate track on which solutions might lie. We are in a system that cause our people to be the unhappiest in the world[Singaporeans the unhappiest people in the world] yet the PAP govt is still trying to make do small tweaks and still constantly preach to us that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the system they have constructed. ..but the reality is we have the most unhappy people in the world who have been dis-empowered by a ruling elite whose interests over time have diverged from that of the common folks...how can it be that no major change is needed to address this?

The PAP today still uses propaganda, filters information and uses a considerable amount of spin to keep Singaporeans in a bubble of ignorance and acceptance of their system. But with alternate sources of information, more Singaporeans realize the flaws and unsustainability of  the current system. 2013 like 2012 will see more Singaporeans turning against the system that is generating negative outcomes in the quality of life for an increasing number of people. Nothing improved in key areas that affected our quality of life in 2012 - housing became less affordable, COE for cars are at record levels, public transport saw no improvement, cost of healthcare kept rising and inflation is in excess of 5%. There is rising indebtedness in our society with consumer loans increasing 34% from $151.5 to $201.4 billion from 2010 to October 2012 since I last wrote about it [Link],  and loan sharking has become epidemic in recent years with more than 65,000 cases in the last 4 years. Singaporeans have the highest debt to income ratio in the world[Personal Debt Bomb].

After 2012, it is hard to be optimistic that the PAP govt will eventually be able to acquire a brave vision to lead us out of our problems and improve the quality of life of Singaporeans. The close link between the PAP and the network of businesses that form our GLCs has resulted in interests that diverged from those of ordinary Singaporeans. Policies have been unbalanced for many years will continue to remain unbalanced until Singaporeans acquire real power to effect changes in the system.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Singapore is also the highest arms importers per capita in the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_industry

Oscar Arias Sanchez President of Costa Rica (awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars across Central America through the Esquipulas II Accords) has stated:

“ When a country decides to invest in arms, rather than in education, housing, the environment, and health services for its people, it is depriving a whole generation of its right to prosperity and happiness.

Anonymous said...

It would take a lot to convince the 60.1%,those who have not benefited from their liaison woth the PAP, to go for change. They have been brain-washed so effectively by the Govt and its machineries.

They swallow hook,line and sinker whatever the Govt thru' its controlled local media dishes out.

Anonymous said...

I'm a civil servant.
Lucky, you are right that the PAP is out of ideas and beholden to the business lobby (to the detriment of the whole country).

The PAP does not even entertain the idea of culling sacred cows or taking bold action to address the country's woes. Its leaders just muddle along, or in George Yeo's words, "go with the flow".


I really hope the government that comes after the PAP has time to put right what has gone terribly wrong.

Anonymous said...

Under LHL's leadership, the country is like shit yet he still want to work for ten more year.

Does he aware of the problems.

Yue Fei said...

I think using Hong Kong's experience of minimum wage is hazardous, as the track record is too short to know if it is going to work. If it was a foregone conclusion that minimum wage is the silver bullet, then every country should be rushing to implement it isn't it? Instead, we see example after example of why it doesn't work: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/12/22/union-supporters-protest-illinois-minimum-wage/; http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/protesting-workers-demand-minimum-wages/article4227729.ece; http://www.socialistworld.net/print/4387

I also find your postulation that Singaporeans do not have an independent mind odd and a tad offensive. If you can be an independent mind, why are you assuming others can't? Are you better than the rest of us?

Anonymous said...

Mr/Ms Yue Fei, Lucky is smarter than most of us. Why are you reading his blog if you are smarter than him? Duh.

Lucky Tan said...

Yue Fei,

I did not say we should jump in to adopt minimum wage legislation the Hong Kong example was brought up to show the boldness and resolve required to make such a decision and walk an alternative path. Given the problems we face with low wages for such a large segment of population, there should be more sense of urgency and boldness applied to the problem.

My view on minimum wage:

http://singaporemind.blogspot.sg/2011/01/minimum-wage-debate-5-hrs-confession-of.html

I can't find the section that insinuated that Singaporeans cannot think independently. In fact I see the ability of so many Singaporeans being able to overcome the way the PAP controls and filter information to think for themselves encouraging. It is the PAP that insults us by removing newspapers that were critical of them, they seem to think that only the PAP knows what is good for Singapore.

Anonymous said...

That we have so many opposition parties in a tiny island is already not right.

So it is impossible to put things right and make things better when the opposition is not right.

Only when the opposition become right, then 60% will also become right. And PAP will change to become right. In fact, everything will become right.

Anonymous said...

The 60%-40% ratio is not permanent, of course. Percentages do change from time to time. It might be of interest to readers that over the last 10 years or so, the ratios were:

2001: 75%-25%

2006: 67%-33%

2011: 60%-40%

2016: ?

Anonymous said...

Smart people in Singapore are making lots of money, sometimes with only a $2 company.

So smart people will not join opposition because it is easier and better to make money.

Without smart people, opposition will not become good, united and strong.

So majority voters will not vote for opposition.

So this becomes a vicious cycle where opposition cannot win.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, there are a few fallacies that we need to address to convince the 60% to make the switch:

1) We depend heavily on foreign investment as we do not have natural resources.

2) An unstable political environment will drive away these investments causing our economy to collapsed.

3) Opposition is not ready to form the government and having a coalition government will lead to political impasse.

Please try to address these deeply entrenched mindset of the 60% as whether they would vote against PAP depends on how well we can dismantle those myths.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to make money when you join opposition.

But if you join PAP, you will have 93% chance to have monthly $15,000 allowance, as compared to only 7% chance if you join opposition.

So the choice is obvious.

Anonymous said...

No wonder lah, when given a chance, everybody want to fight for the monthly allowance, even to the extent of "killing" each other.

Hahahahaha.

Anonymous said...

/// “The problem with Singapore is that suddenly, we became a one-trick pony. ///

Here's another one trick pony.
Only PAP is good enough.

Here's another one trick pony.
Only Limpeh has the ability to forecast.

Many other one trick ponies in Singapore.
And they are all white in colour.

Anonymous said...

People are already testing tsunami bomb and some still think PAP is unfallable? After so many people are being made into serfs one way or another, owning no hard assets whatsoever, pap is a destroyer of wealth of hardworking people. Their hoarding and whoring exercise have already started to frustrate many people. I will not be surprised that they will lose the election next round.

Anonymous said...

Only PAP is good enough.
Anon 2/1/13 20:36

Don't say good enough.

Say best available.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one eye jack will be the best available to be King, tio bo?

Anonymous said...

anon 17:42

Think properly. He is the best we have, no one comes close to him. The current problems are all carried over from the past. Think!

Anonymous said...

I think PAP will screw themselves in the property market.

Anonymous said...

Mishandle it, blood will flow

Lye Khuen Way said...

Lucky, your summary of 2012 & the one-track mindset of the PAP "coverment" so far, is the sad Hard Truth that somehow, will offend those still enjoying the good life .

Well, there are more of the well off and of the Establishment coming around, day by day. They have a conscience. A sense of righteousness and a love for the country of their birth or adoption.

Sadly, the very people who claim to have Singapore and Singaporeans welfare at heart, seem at least to me, bent on destroying whatever progress made since independence believing that ensuring "growth in the GDP" will solve all problems.

Anonymous said...

"PAP is the best available"?
- Seriously?
- Don't make my toe hairs laugh ...

Who says?
I say lah.
My name is Lee Con-You.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2/1/13 20:00 said... "Without smart people, opposition will not become good, united and strong."

* * * * *

Well, Anon 20:00, you fucking dumbass, the answer to your your extremely stupid comment... "Chen Show Mao"

Anonymous said...

Chen Show Mao? You sure or not?

How come he did not even hold any appointment in his own party CEC, despite his "star" status? See below:

Chairman: Ms Sylvia Lim Swee Lian
Vice-Chairman: Mr Mohammed Rahizan bin Yaacob
Secretary-General: Mr Low Thia Khiang

Organising Secretary: Ms Ng Swee Bee
Treasurer: Mr Yee Jenn Jong
Deputy Treasurer: Ms Frieda Chan Sio Phing (new appointment; former council member)
Chair, WP Media Team: Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song
Vice-Chair, WP Media Team: Ms Jane Leong (new appointment; former council member)

Webmaster: Mr Koh Choong Yong

Deputy Webmaster: Ms Lee Li Lian (new appointment; former Youth Wing president)
President, WP Youth Wing: Mr Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap (new appointment; former organising secretary)

Anonymous said...

Ya hor, if Chen Show Mao is so smart, how come he got no appointment in WP CEC?

So assuming WP can win 93% seats, can Chen Show Mao become PM?

Anonymous said...

Lee Hsien Loong become PM because he is the secretary general of PAP and PAP won 93% seats in last GE.

Anonymous said...

Not say I like PAP but seriously, I will be very worried if WP can win 93% seats in next GE.

I sure will want to emigrate, even to Timbuktu.

Anonymous said...

Recently, the executive condominiums were sold for $2.05 million. There were young couples who bought these properties at this high price.
The question is that how could young couple who started working not long ago have the money to pay for the high price properties?
Of course, the young couples do not have the money.
This does not matter to the young couples as they have the backing from their rich parents who are owners and directors of SME businesses.

Isn't puzzling that these business owners and directors of SME businesses are so rich, yet they claim that they have difficulties to make profit from operating businesses in Singapore?

Here is the hard truth and it goes like this.........


For many years, PAP adopt pro-business policies. To ensure that businesses keep generating high profits year in year out, PAP appeal to businesses to keep business cost low by allowing businesses to have unlimited number of cheap foreigners to come to Singapore to work for businesses.

To the PAP, businesses are the number one priority and everything has to give way to businesses in Singapore. This is no surprise as PAP also run Singapore like a big business.

When businesses grow, businesses would recruit more and more foreigners to fill up the newly created positions in the businesses. Business owners and directors know that employing
foreigners would be cheaper and cheap foreigners are easily available due to PAP lax immigration policies to allow huge number of foreigners to come to Singapore to work.
The business owners and directors also can exploit these cheap foreigners to further save on the labour cost. Exploitation include receiving money kickbacks from foreigners, forcing the foreigners to pay for all the compulsory fees like pre-employment medical check up, return air tickets on ceasing employment, etc.

Although PAP are kind and generous to the businesses, business owners and directors are the ungrateful lots. As business owners and directors are selfish, they advocate to have access to unlimited cheap foreigners as long as time allowed. These business owners and directors use all kinds of tactics and methods, including lying and scaring tactics, to justify the need to continue keeping the floodgate open to cheap foreigners.

Being greedy, business owners and directors want to have more profit for their businesses. They use the cheaper foreigners to replace the Singapore citizens so as to save up on more payroll cost.
When Singapore Citizens lose their jobs, their personal and financial lives nosedive.
When Singapore Citizens approach PAP for assistance, PAP ask Singapore Citizens why they are lazy and do not want to work. Hey, it is the PAP who have contributed to the Singapore Citizens to lose the jobs by allowing businesses to have easy access to cheap foreigners, yet PAP dare to criticize and look down on unemployed Singapore Citizens.

After many years of keeping low payroll costs by hiring large number of cheap foreigners and exploiting many more workers, profit for businesses rise continually and significantly. With more accumulated profits, business owners and directors buy more properties and luxury cars for themselves.

Flooded with so much money from many years of accumulated profits, business owners and directors can easily take out multiple $2.05 million dollars to support their children to own the high priced
condominiums.


In essence, PAP have divided Singapore into 2 worlds:
the world of business owners and directors and their offspring who own condominiums and luxury cars like collecting marbles
and
the world of common Singapore Citizens, who can never understand what is condominium and luxury car, whose main purpose in life is to struggle to live decent lives in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

/// the world of common Singapore Citizens, who can never understand what is condominium and luxury car, whose main purpose in life is to struggle to live decent lives in Singapore. ///

Very true.
But the dumbass Sinkies still want to continue to vote for PAP.
They need to learn to ask the key question:
"How will you benefit me if I vote for you?"

"Do I need to start a $2 company to enjoy the benefits?"

Anonymous said...

For sure the papist Leegime is FUCK.
They are incapable. They are bankrupt of ideas. Singaporeans will kick them out in the next GE.

Christopher Chen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I love Govt! It's provided cheap labour to work as cleaner, maids, contractor etc .. for Singaporean. What the issues here? Look around you, Most Mid-class Singaporean owned 2 houses. Govt provided you with 2 millions Foreigners to work Cheaply and allow you Highest Rental Income from addition home. Singaporean just needs to exploit the Foreigners and Earn Passive Rental Income from them. That is why so many people in their 40+ are unemployed!

Anonymous said...

u make it sound like employment is a good thing....I only see two types of ppl...those who consume and those who are out to consume you....sweat is a curse under the wrong tree

Anonymous said...

The cost of living has continued to rise in 2012 despite having a strong SGD. Maybe it's time for the govt to focus on other inflation fighting tools..... Relying on the strong SGD policy just doesn't seem to be enough ....

Amused said...

Yue Fei,

You sound exactly like a PAP loyalist. Instead of spreading misinformation, ("then every country should be rushing to implement it isn't it?"), I suggest that the readers visit the following Wiki pages on minimum wage -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country

As you can see, MOST countries have minimum wage laws today.

I hope more readers have REAL independent mind than your PAP mindset.

Anonymous said...

Good thing about being forced to grow the population is it results in more obnoxious people and more money problem people to deal with lol
No money die. Got money also die. So be happy and psycho lah lol. Turn to religion psycho psycho stupid people till their tears drop like waterfall and still stand worshipping their great white shark leaders, religious or otherwise, like the North Koreans lol
Like kena daylight robbery by moralist still smile from ears to ears lol
Meanwhile, opposition powers calling for change or a chance to wipe your backside lol

Anonymous said...

It is like making love to a prostitute and trying to teach the prostitute to abide by the eight fold paths. The prostitute listen, live by your eight fold paths and still fuck you for your money.

Anonymous said...

Teo Ho Pin had explained about AIM.

What do You think Folks?

Anonymous said...

I think Teo Ho Pin will still remain as MP until 2016 and if he still contest, will be re-elected as MP again.

PAP will still win GE 2016 with at least 90% seats.

WP at best will only retain Aljunied GRC and Hougang (if the wards still exist).

Chee Soon Juan will lose again and other opposition parties will still remain kosong in Parliament.

What do you think?



Anonymous said...

Why MPs England so bad I no understand. You go see MP or phua chu kang hah?

Anonymous said...

Sinkies ang moh generally very the bad. Maybe coz ministers talk ka liao in church

Anonymous said...

There are 2 major train breakdowns on the last day of 2012 resulting in two 12-car push out. One on the NS line in the morning and the other as rightly pointed out by you on the EW line.

Anonymous said...

hi all,

I know of a philippino P6 student (in 2012), was successfully exempted from Mother Tongue, because Singapore education system only offers Mother Tongue in 3 languages - Chinese, Malay and Tamil)in PSLE.

Her PSLE score, with 3 subjects only, was 253. and eventually went on to a prestige secondary school.

care to share your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

anon 1440. Many are like that including those from korea, myanmar, etc. They have less to study and thus can also score better easily. singapore system sucks big time.

Anonymous said...

There are so many flats and apartments waiting for rental (cos so many have 2 properties), i think the bubble will burst this year. The gov will have to continue to import aliens to replace jobs of singaporeans to support the property market. This is a vicious cycle and in the end all singaporeans including the gov is the big time losers. Pursuing GDP at expense of housing, medical, retirement, education etc can only be a short term measure.

Anonymous said...

anon 1440 - cos of this unfair education system, kids from primary schools already start to dislike foreigners. by having this bad system, gov is the cause of this hate problem.

Anonymous said...

Big time losers, bubble burst, import aliens, train breakdowns, bad system, hate problem, $2 company, whatever lah, but PAP can still win elections what.

The opposition still can't win what. Or can they?

Anonymous said...

Even if MRT break down on last day of 2012 or whatever day, it is still the best available MRT in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
I'm a civil servant.
Lucky, you are right that the PAP is out of ideas and beholden to the business lobby (to the detriment of the whole country)."

To be exact, they are beholden to big business. There was a time when being pro - business was also pro - people because businesses created jobs for Singaporeans. Not anymore.

The MIW are riding a tiger they cannot dismount. Grim scenario.

Anonymous said...

All developed & even 3rd World countries have many world class brand under belt to generate presence & innovation, what have we ? All our dudes , children of GLC has only service (SIA) & property developer to flash, produce nothing the world needed other than satisfied the few, and mind you there are plenty of choice.

This government is leading us to nowhere.



Yue Fei said...

To the bloke who says Lucky is smarter than us all because we are all reading his blog - I rest my case. Lucky: please throw him a bone. LOL

Lucky: This is the segment: The PAP today still uses propaganda, filters information and uses a considerable amount of spin to keep Singaporeans in a bubble of ignorance and acceptance of their system.

Amused: I think you confused implementation with success. Just because a country implemented minimum wage does not mean that the system is successful. Did you check the Gini coefficient of those countries you quoted?

headhunter said...

Happy new year to you too! I wish this year may bring many good opportunities for many job hunters out there, and also good economy for every country. Anyway, thanks for sharing you thoughts. Looking forward for your next post.

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Anonymous said...

If not for the lousy govt, we would not be in this state now. My neighbours children got scolded by the CC ppl for bringing her kids there to run around & play. I get upset when I heard this. My neighbour isn't well off & cannot afford to bring her childrens out all the time. The facilities should be meant for everyone as long as you pay conservancy charges.

Anonymous said...

We have the most lousy govt in the world. Some 3rd world country citizens may actually be doing better than us. It is a huge pity that a lot of ppl still believes in PAP & their wayang. Alot has been said & many of us also no more saliva already. I pray that the opposition will win in Punggol. BTW, I read news this morning that a 45yrs old pastor is not accused of sexually abused a 15year old girl. Why don't the papers reveal the church & who is the pastor???? At first, you thought only the Vatican City has this sort of cases becos Catholics do not allowed Priests to marry. Now this happen!!!!

Anonymous said...

I would also be very worried if I were Singaporean about the number of Gurka Mercenaries employed by the government. For what reason are forigners employed in security positions , are not the Singapore police and military capable , or will only foreigners obey without question the government ?
Add to this that SIngapore is the 5 biggest importer of arms ( not even in to top 20 for exporters) , why do they need to import this quantity , for one of the smallest countries in the world , after all its only a city .