Sunday, May 17, 2015

The floodgates of foreigners


Many Singaporeans are not happy with the Government's open door policy to foreigners. Within 10 years, the population of Singapore almost doubled, infrastructure cannot cope with the influx of foreigners and traffic, public transportation is definitely declining.

As you may know, supply and demand will definitely cause prices to change. With an open door policy for foreign labor, wages become stagnant for years. There are always new labor willing to work for lower wages.

On the other hand, the increase in population drives up rents as the housing did not catch up with the increase of population. With the increase of rents, speculators move in and buy up properties, hoping to make money on the flip. Very soon, prices double and triple and apartments that cost $400,000 in 1998 or 2000 can easily cost over $1M on 2008 and 2014.

Next, the hospitals run out of hospital beds. There are easily 10 years without any new hospitals built, and it is not until a dengue epidemic that the government decided to build more hospitals.

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The government was slow to act. Only when elections is close, controls are put in place to limit the number for foreign workers. Quotas are created. When housing prices have increased so much and real estate rentals are over the top, the new stamp duties are introduced.

Lately, Singapore earned the title of the most expensive city in the world. Due to the high rental costs, businesses have to charge a premium for everything. Food courts popped up everywhere and speculators buy up some of these coffee shops and drive up the rents and in turn drive up the cost of food.

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I recently have a chance to speak with a few new immigrants. Some of them were PR in Singapore from Malaysia, China and Philippines. All of them are in Singapore because of one thing -- employment.

Singapore bring a more expensive city, pays way more than their home countries. They decide to become PR because they feel that Singapore is safe and they can do more that they could in their countries.

One of them even joined the Volunteer Corp at SAF to get to know an MP who was in the same camp. PAP MP Janil Puthucheary a new immigrant has not served NS before. After talking to them, they have a very good impression on Singapore and have even joined as Grassroots members.

"In Singapore, you need to know the MP and getting connected with these people brings a lot of benefits. From getting your PR status and citizenship process expedited, getting your kids to the school of your choice, and sometimes priority queue in HDB application." He said. "Sometimes as entrepreneurs, it is important to be a grassroots member to know about some tips on good deals in GeBiz, changes in PIC grants and access to other free government money. Because these ideas generally come from Grassroots members and we share these information."

Even when I do not trust 100% in everything that he said, the fact that he is now in SAFVC, an active member in the Grassroots at a GRC and juggling with his new job and training makes it really really credible.

From this perspective, I could see why the PAP want to bring in more foreigners. Getting them involved and giving them some benefits will essentially secure votes. With them pouring in, it does not matter what happened before and how much screw ups is created, the new citizens will generally support and vote for PAP, because many of them are also not considering staying here for long term.

The new immigrant from PRC, also joined the grassroots as a volunteer, said that it was easier for him to try to get work in the US as Singapore and USA has a free trade agreement, and he is already in the midst of getting a H1B1 visa to work for a US company, after becoming a Singaporean for less than 2 years.

Not all of these new citizens will stay long term, but be assured, once they get a better offer, many of them -- Permanent Residents and new citizens would jump ship.

-- Iron Bowl

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