Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Thoughts on the Singapore System


The GRC system is a great disservice to the citizens in a democratic country, and it is not ok when the incumbent party with 60.1% votes gets 81/87 seats in the parliament.

Many people are afraid to speak out against the government or even about the failed policies. The 6.9 million white paper which is proposed by the government to increase population in the already strained infrastructure is a good example that in the last 10 years, the government seems more interested in profits than the people.

This problem happens in many countries as well. When there is a time of great prosperity growth and high GDP, and yet, you do not feel any effects at all, except inflation, then something must be wrong.

There are many signs that things are not going well. Since 2007 after the salary increase of the highest paid ministers in the world, things just went south. It seems that the policies are primarily focused on driving up GDP because it seems that the minister's salaries are pegged to the economy. Then, the tax structure are changed much, allowing more rich people to pay less taxes, dropping capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

For 80% or more Singaporeans, this tax does not affect them, and yet, there is GST which is now at 7%, and this GST affects everything, including food, clothes and medicine.

For the past 10 years, inflation due to the open floodgates of foreigners coming to work in Singapore cause rents and properties to be not affordable. Resale HDB sells for over S$1 million and new HDBs in Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio can be easily S$400k and up.

However, salaries for the majority of Singaporeans have not increased much. In 2000, I've a friend who was making $5k a month and he bought a $200k 5-room HDB in Hougang flat with his wife (who is unemployed). Today, someone with his qualifications and experience can make about $6.5k and the brand new 5 room flat for about $420k.

Rents have risen sharply for commercial properties as well, driving up the cost of food and services. The roads are much more congested than before, and there are more ERP. Cost of ownership of a car is greatly increased by high cost of maintenance, (though salaries of the technicians are not much higher) and high COE prices.

Many think that they do not own cars, but as commercial vehicle prices are high, tolls both incoming to and from Malaysia is high, food prices are also affected. Public Transportation is also getting more expensive as the feeder bus service discounted price is no longer applicable.

I've always thought that food prices in the city is high, and people living in the newer estates may pay less for things as rents are lower, however, this is not true. Food cost more in the food courts in Punggol because they are owned and operated by commercial operators, out to make profits.

Because you live away from the city, most of the time, traveling to work and town cost more and takes more time. Housing and rents may be cheaper, but there is not really that much of savings to be made.

Town Councils in many areas are run by "PAP people" and it seems they care more for "building things" than actual social impact. There are so many playgrounds and new playgrounds that are only occupied during weekends, and empty exercise areas which are empty most of the time.

In Toa Payoh, they are actually building elevators at Multi-Storey Carparks which seems to only benefit the rich folks that can afford $100k cars, yet the residents in many HDB flats, especially those who live in the shorter 4 storey ones do not get elevators.

Poorly built sidewalks, bus stops, playground are changed and fixed every 5 years, and there seems to be renovation done to hawker centers every few years as well. And I do not see much improvement beside more inconvenience to the residents during the renovations.

I could say that many of these contracts for the unnecessary constructions and renovations go to the "volunteers" in the GRC who are mainly there for the benefits they get by allying to PAP. They just so happen to own contracting companies as well.

The CPF, Medisave and Medishield don't seem to work well, and as a mandatory system, it seems that the money locked inside the system does not really belong to the owner. Large restrictions are placed to limit access to the money and you incur interest from borrowing your own money.

When a young blogger writes about this, he gets sued by the Prime Minister. When you fear to talk about the government or its policies, perhaps its time to change the government.

When things are not going as well as it should, I think it is time to vote in the opposition to make sure that the government and the highly paid ministers do in fact work for the people and not just for the rich. The growing income gap needs to be addressed, and the focus should be progress and prosperity for the nation.

For a more transparent and accountable government, 50 years should be a new milestone and past state secrets should be open for the public to browse after 50 years.

-- Ironbowl.

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