I have abstained from blogging since the start of my new school semester at the University. Can’t take it anymore! My blogging intelligence has since dropped to the abyss.
Since I’ve arrived in Australia, life wasn’t that complicated anymore. Of course, I’m temporarily out of the deadly rat race in Singapore. Then, I met some locals, selfless beings who genuinely cared about society and virtues of life (Rarely seen in Singapore). But I’ve also met horrible people who exploit the benefits system and immigrants like myself, trying very hard to adapt to life here while retaining some undesired traits like littering, being unfriendly and suspicious of other people.
Ok now comes the gist, are Singaporeans duped by the current government? I am speculating and bias of course, that’s my disclaimer because I am scared kenna caught by ISD and sued. Anyway, our ministers are never corrupt, they are whiter than white and they have astronomical salaries. I only feel that too much of our money are taken from our control via the following. Let’s take the capitalist approach:
What are our revenue generating assets? see link
1. Taxes from companies, income, cars (COE, ERP, etc), GST, property taxes and stamp duties from our booming property sector etc.
2. Fines (Frankly, we are a “fine” city)
3. Our Casinos and Singapore pools
4. Temasek owned companies and the GIC. (That is about 50%-60% of the economy)
I have listed a few categories but the question is are we benefiting from them?
Its an obvious NO isn’t it? We are the consumers who pay and pay to the so call “revenue generating assets”
But… The revenue generated is used to promote the welfare and well being of its citizens! Wait wait wait… do you feel any bit of welfare? or is it just your own money working for your own interests?
If you look at our national budget… (See link) It looks very presentable and eye appealing as you have 40% (24 billion) of our expenditure allocated in 2013 for social development. Dig deeper, 5.6 billion allocated to our ministry of health, 11.6 billion to education ministry, 1.8 billion to MND, and less than 2 billion each for the rest of the social development ministries. The numbers look enormous but have you the citizen felt the effects or benefited? Not yet… or perhaps not in the near future.
Let’s go down to the specifics, do you expect the 5.6 billion healthcare budget pay for your hospital bills? Have your hospital bills shrunk or gone up recently? Or are we just fighting against inflation of hospital bills? Do you know our low healthcare budget per capita is much to the envy of many western nations? Have the starting wages of teachers gone up? Who has taken up the jobs recently? Foreign talent? your guess is as good as mine. 1.8 billion for constructing new flats? nah… don’t think so… see below: “Left to right pocket”.
In my opinion, the reality is that a very small percentage of the budget is assigned for genuine welfare and healthcare for our citizens as compared to other advanced economies. I remembered someone said “We have a 3rd world healthcare budget“. Where is our welfare? ahhem… don’t forget the current government preaches “a fair, not welfare society”
But, don’t we have the 2 massive revenue generating casinos which generate the “permanent GST vouchers” and some bumper “hong bao” just before the last few general elections.
Well, the fact is these schemes are not exactly permanent. There are no fixed dividends promised. Heh when our pace of life slows down and/or when foreigners and visitors don’t come to buy our properties and gamble at our casinos, you can expect a permanent drop or abolishment of the GST vouchers. Besides, I remembered just after the U save vouchers were introduced, our utility bills went up. “left pocket to right pocket”
Allow me to illustrate another example of the “left pocket to right pocket” phenomena happening in Singapore:
Our Property and land
Our HDB minister stated that it cost a few hundred millions to build our beloved and scarce HDB. Really? Ok a breakdown:
– Levies are collected from the poor low-waged foreign construction workers who constructed our HDB and all other buildings. These levies add up to millions. The government collect the levies and I have no idea what it is used for. Retraining of citizens? Education budget is already 11.6 billion, may be that’s not enough, Singaporeans are too dumb to be trained?
– Construction companies get a handsome mark up. (Can someone research on the directors of these companies who are members of our ruling party? May be Leong Sze Hian can help on the subject. Find out how much are the director fees. Mind you, there are legal.) So you have more millions added up to the cost.
– Stamp duty 3% on every HDB transaction.
– The controversial LAND COSTS!!! hahaha… We are not assets in the eye of our current government. We are leechers or pest, not people who granted them the mandate to rule us. So we PAY LAND COSTS… to rent it for 99 years. We don’t own the land actually… but the space above it. In conclusion, citizens have to pay for a right to live on the space above the land. Heh, another load of millions to the cost.
The above 4 points added up to the hundred of millions loss to HDB according to the HDB minister… it doesn’t make sense to me. We take up loads of debt to finance the costs and HDB is still losing a lot of money??? So therefore in theory, your money from the right pocket goes to the left pocket such as the so call land reserve costs, levies, marked up profits of participating companies and taxes. And If you don’t pay for land costs, YOU ARE RAIDING THE RESERVES as coined by our former HDB minister. link
You know an Australian landed property (located in the suburbs) the size of a typical Sentosa Cove property (300-400sqm) costs an average of SGD300,000 – 600,000. Wait… we get subsidies to buy our HDB, its cheaper for us…..errr… so do Australians. Some Australians even get free housing! For those who don’t have it can get rent assistance.
CPF! The savings enforcer! Ensuring money will never reach you even after you retire!
I must admit to some the CPF minimum sum is good because as you age, you are more vulnerable to scammers or lovecheats. To others, like those who knows money at hand is worth much more when locked up in the CPF (unless CPF pays higher than the inflation rate). Practically, your money is losing value. Isn’t it better spent elsewhere? But then again the risk is there. So the question is what’s so fucked up about it? THE MINIMUM SUM SCHEME! Marking it up against inflation and extending the retirement age so that your CPF money stays there longer. It think this is not right and not fair. See link
So How is your CPF money spent? link
Is it safe? link
In my opinion, NO. You are the master of your own destiny. When other people you don’t really know manages your money, there is nothing to worry actually. ITS NOT YOURS! In accounting terms, when you don’t control it, its not your asset. definition link
In Australia you have age pension, you get it from the government, not from your own money. link
Lastly, because of the sacrifices of our fellow Singaporeans, we have a lot of buildings and money we don’t own. Frankly, I have never been to the top of MBS or any of the casinos. Looks beautiful but its not free and not for you citizens. Before I end, I would like to share a few things that’s been shove down our throats in your face:
1. We are a meritocratic society. see link
2. Fair, not welfare society. See LKY’s book: from 3rd world to first.
3. We are all in this together. See link
4. The population white paper. See link
5. NTUC, The pretentious existence of trade unions. Their “core values:”
-We care for U
– We trust in U
– We believe in U
-We are working for U
Surely I haven’t felt it when I was a worker. Bus drivers aren’t, as far as the news went. Employees of local banks aren’t allowed to join unions as stated in their contracts.
Our labour chief once famously coined the CBF slogan, asking workers to be cheaper, better and faster. He is a minister without portfolio and earning millions. Found the propaganda song on youtube here: link
As a Singaporean, some of the things I wrote are common knowledge among fellow Singaporean who are not daft.