I just checked the latest results for COE bidding out today and found that the COE for big cars has crossed the $80K mark. Singapore has the highest cost of car ownership in the world and I wonder if we have the highest cost of car ownership excluding the price of the car! In many places you can get a brand new Mercedes for less than the price of that piece of paper.
The COE is just one example of an extreme that Singaporeans have to cope with in their struggle for a better quality of life. While it is often argued that these schemes are necessary for various reasons, we should think about the outcomes and the cumulative effects of these extremes on ordinary Singaporeans. For me, I find it quite amazing how Singaporeans have come to accept these extremes – the same situation that will make citizens of other countries jump and scream – yet our leaders express their view that Singaporeans lack resilience and are too dependent on the govt.
Singaporeans pay the 2nd highest electricity tariffs in the world. Our leaders are paid the highest salaries in the world even after the recent ‘cuts’. We have the most expensive public housing in the world. The biggest income gap among developed countries – nobody comes close except USA which occasionally beat us… but the people there have been occupying Wall Street for months due to the income inequality and we can’t even find people to show up at Raffles Place. Our fertility rate has plunged to be the lowest among 222 countries. We now have the 2nd highest population density in the world. Highest foreign influx outside the middle east. We have the 2nd highest per capita execution rate in the world after this country known as Turkmenistan which is run by mad dictators.
Singaporean workers work the longest hours according to ILO (without minimum wages). Workers have the 2nd highest stress level in Asia. Singapore has the fastest growing number of millionaires likely due to the naturalisation of high net worth individuals here for the low taxes. The two casinos here have overtaken the total revenue of casinos in Las Vegas, Lee Kuan Yew left his PM job as the world’s longest serving prime minister. We also have the world’s the longest-serving prisoner of conscience, Chia Thye Poh whose detention exceeded that of Nelson Mandela.
Singaporean workers are the world’s unhappiest. Singaporeans shoulder the heaviest share of healthcare expediture among developed countries and our govt % expenditure of healthcare is the lowest. Our expenditure on defense express as a % of the govt budget exceeds that of Israel.
The foreign maids in Singapore are the among lowest paid in the world – large part of what you pay goes to the levy yet the whole country can debate for months over giving the maid one day off per week when this is mandatory in every other country where they are better paid. Singapore probably has some of the best educated cabbies in the world due to severe structural unemployment – it is not uncommon to meet a cabby with a degree and if you’re lucky, you can met the one with a PhD from Stanford.
Our team based (GRC) election system is quite unique in the world and generate results that are also very unusual – a govt opposed by 40% of the people has 95% of the seats in parliament.
We have elderly cleaners – they are sometimes so old that even people from developing countries like China and Philippines get a shock when they see these cleaners. Singaporeans have the highest savings rate in the world due to the CPF scheme but more than half will not have enough (minimum sum) to retire on. Singapore has one of the highest reserves per capita in the world – large part of which comes from the the sale of public housing to Singaporeans many of whom now have great difficulty retiring unless they are willing to lose their homes.
It is strange how we have come to accept some of these extremes as normal over time. When you talk about spending a little less on defense some Singaporeans will worry about being less secure. When we discuss about giving maids one day off Singaporeans worry about what the maid will during their day off – yet they trust the maid to look after their expensive homes and their children. When we cut the pay of our leaders which was the highest in the world, we cut it to a level that is still the highest in the world. The govt is terrified of giving a little to the poor elderly so that they do not have to work yet they are okay with with losing a few tens of billions of our reserves in bad investments.
There is a tipping point when people begin to see reality for what it is and the distortion becomes hard for the mind to accept. There will be a point when change becomes inevitable and people begin to push things from the extreme back to normal – the propaganda can only do so much for so long. I often wonder if it is going to be a long slow process towards normality or we are going to snap out of this deep hypnosis by a single event in 2016.
Written by Lucky Tan.