Aug 7, 2009

The Second Question: Homes For Singaporeans

"How do you, as leaders, convince Singaporeans of that when they are already living in good-quality public and private housing?"

That question is not a problem for Singapore. Nor is it a problem for Singaporeans.

It is merely a politician's problem. Politicians always have to convince people of this or that. Are their claims actually true? That is a separate issue. The convincing is what the politician needs to achieve, irrespective of the truth of the matter. As I had said in my earlier post, PR and marketing are all part of the game of politics.

But should SM Goh have been so indiscreet? Should he have stated publicly, and in such an explicit manner, his agenda to convince the masses? Well, SM Goh does have his other reasons.

There's a property bubble out there right now, remember. SM Goh is trying to help suck a little air out of the bubble. In other words, he wants to send the message that "Hey, maybe you can stay put right where you are. Maybe you don't really need to move."

But of course, people will always aspire to live in better homes. It's human nature. And of course, there is "good-quality" housing in Singapore. There is even "great-quality" and "superb-quality" housing in Singapore. Whether you live in such housing is another question.

That takes us back to the theme of the personalised question. Most importantly, the individual has to make smart decisions about where to live and what to buy.

And when to buy it.

Incidentally, folks, in deciding whether you can afford a particular property, bear this in mind. The fact that a bank will not grant you a loan is a good indicator that you can't afford it. But the fact that a bank will grant you a loan is not a good indicator that you can afford it.

Remember - in doing its credit appraisal, the bank focuses on the risk that you will default (or be unable to meet your repayments). If the bank is happy to take that risk, then you get your loan. But the bank is not really interested in how hard you might have to save and scrimp and cut down on your other expenses, so that you can make your mortgage repayments.

In other words, the bank doesn't care about how much you might have to compromise your lifestyle, in order to afford your home. That's an assessment you'll have to make for yourself.


Anonymous said...

your insights make the situation crystal clear. always entertained by your blog


The said...

Good quality housing, but at what costs? Can't remember the rule of thumb - in most countries one can afford a house on 3 to 5 times the gross salary. However, in Singapore, the housing cost at least more than 10 times the gross salary.

Anti-chronic Singapore said...

"Clap! Clap!" Well said!

I read this post twice. Very true and practical advice indeed.

I have learnt to ignore the 'noise' by politicians and focus on policies, etc. and think of ways how it would impact me directly instead.

We must also remember that the Singapore Government are not just the ministers per se. There is a huge machinery of policy-writers, etc. behind them, who some may or may not be PAP members. They therefore may or may not be entirely in line with politicians in power.

So, do you think the ministers or the permanent secretarys run the ministries?

Even if another party were to come to power in a GE, many of these civil servants would still be there.

Onlooker said...

Part of the problem is the "Adding" of value by "Upgrading".compound that with a poorly conceived Taxation scheme.

The carrot that became the poison.

And we have billion surplus and drop in quality of life for citizens who are denied better education and healthcare.
And what is available is freely dispense to non citizens who do not even want/need to defend the land.
There is a reason why in the past country that rely heavily on mercenaries Failed

Wouldn't want to Go there.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

Hi Onlooker,

Do you have information to substantiate your comments?

Although I agree with you on the NS part of it, what I find disturbing online and on this blog is many people like to make sweeping statements. You mentioned:-

1) 'lower quality of life',
2) 'citizens denied education', and
3)'freely dispensing to non citizens'

4) Poorly conceived taxation scheme

Don't let hearsay affect you and you create more hearsay.

For 'lower quality of life', I don't see where. Even if many single aged (which I had visited myself). conditions are still better than the 70s and 80s. In the 70s, I used to live in a house where I have to use firewood to cook and no modern toilet. I don't know if many on this blog were even born yet. So, what yardstick are you measuring from?

If you mean quality is about Happiness and not a rat race, don't even go there. I have been to Bhutan, which is supposedly the Happiest place on earth, but the living conditions there are very harsh and average lifespan is low. After experiencing current Singapore, I doubt many would agree to have Bhutan's living standard. In fact, they want to be like us, with good economic growth. Such is the irony.

Citizens denied education? What education? Tertiary? How many? What did they freely dispense? Asean scholars? I think there are policies that ensure Singaporeans have priority in local universities, only an X% are reserved for non-citizens. I can't recall this exact X%. We could argue this X% is excessive, etc. But when did we deny citizens from education? In fact, education is encouraged in Singapore but many chose to take it too easy on their studies until its too late. Sadly but true, like in all countries, there will always be some who are not as bright as others.

For Asean Scholars, its been ongoing for years. My hypothesis is its a plan to attract talent and build relations with our neighbours. If you believe in each country, about 10% are smartest/ most beautiful, then with 2.5m, its not that many. For a country like say the US with 300m people, 10% is more than our population! And they are still attracting talent.

Perhaps in British colonial days where many were denied education, which is why many above 45 with no tertiary education find it hard in the new economy. I do agree that current policies to retrain them are not enough.

I do agree that NS is a sore thing and more should be done for men in Singapore (e.g like free local tertiary education for those who completed NS and could get to University. The pay is way too low in NS for the risk we take). It is also precisely NS that I believe (after speaking to foreign talents in my company) many 'foreign talents' do not take up citizenship. So, they should try and resolve this ASAP.

I don't mind the NS training but we spend so much time waiting, cleaning toilets (during my time in the 80s) and stand by bed - all complete waste of time. Perhaps they should relook at their processes.

For taxation, I believe the low tax is to attract the rich, so we could become a wealth management hub, complemented by medical, fun, good quality housing. I don't mind paying tax (which is already low and many people who make less than $5,000 hardly pay any!) but our budget always got huge surplus by underspending. More should be done to help the poor, who could not keep up.

In the US, its 40% on your annual income, and you pay another 8% to 10% sales tax. You still get dirty streets, crime and not much at all.

I really hope everyone could discuss and contribute with facts and not come to this interesting blog just to unwind frustrations. We all claim the Singapore Government mislead us, so we should not mislead others.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Chronic Singapore is talking cock.

Onlooker said...

To Politically Correct anti chronic:
look around you.
can't you feel the effect of GST.
Are you even living in heartland Singapore?

point 1: lower quality of life:- Have you personally seen a FW dormitory?
And the effect to the neighborhood near it?
heck, look at the conditions the lesser educated FW lived in?
Have you ever seen FW students helping the migrant FW situation?

The answer is after this comment there will be a grand Show but the heart will not be in it.Such Irony ,nice show though.

Bhutan? since you like to read so much into my comment, you are free to do so.Good straw man though.

Point 2:the key word here is "BETTER".
Asean scholar blah blah blah
Yes, be proud of the high intake of FW student(18% of whom are bond breakers).
18% in tertiary education placements that could be given to Singaporeans who have slightly lesser grade to the draconian enforcement of cutoffs.
Oops I forgot,Academic performance is everything here in uniquely.The Meritocratic system is based on how many "A"s one could score and not the actual merit of the services rendered. Silly Mee.:P

And these FW student return to be part of the propapganda machine to trick their fellow country man here as cheap labour.

point 3: FW and PR are not "Subsidized"? sacred bleu, how can even suggest not "subsidizing" them.
Or maybe likewise reading too much into previous comment too.

Point 4: removal of estate tax,lesser income tax = increased GST. after which Monkeys are paid more peanuts.Go figure.What a good job.job credit that is.

Those who can afford it pay less tax and the burden of tax shift to the cleaner auntie who still have to buy rice and eat. maybe she could cut down on the menu and exclude ferment Si chuan bean curd which price have increased kudos to GST. now ain't that meritocratic.

BTW why would you want to mislead others,

We all claim the Singapore Government mislead us, so we should not mislead others.

most thought that people who comment on blog do so because they feel strongly about aspect of the topic that were raised.even if it is meh.

Wooden Wouldn't Go.
What to do? it happened....

But this is after all about "Homes for Singaporean"

So a simple abstract for my previous comment and for Achronic sake.
Cost of owning a property (including leased) to live in. plus GST.

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with what Anti-Chronic Singapore said.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Chronic Singapore said... For 'lower quality of life', I don't see where.

Stopped reading after the above line.

Alan Wong said...

I think both Anti-Chronic Singapore and Onlooker views are equally correct, depending on where you are coming from.

I suppose if you have the right connections and can purchase an Ardmore apartment with a discount without even asking, then the quality of life in Singapore cannot be any worse off. Or for that matter, if your parents are doctors and can still get overseas scholarship for your kid, who cares if scholarships are given to foreigners.

However the general sentiment is that our Government is not particularly interested in anyone's welfare unless it is to the benefit of their own interests.

There's a lot of things which our Govt are in a position to do but are reluctant because of the phobia that they will become a heavy burden to them. But on the other hand, they are prepared to lose big time on ie. they are prepared to gamble your money away in the name of inevitable investment risks.

So the question now is can our Govt start taking measures which can really benefit the masses without looking at $ & cents. For example, if the Malaysia govt only charges 1 ringgit at public hospitals and there is no need to pay for TV licences, why is it that our rich Govt can't do better ?

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

Hi Alan Wong,

Thanks for yor comments.

I have lived in very poor physical conditions (no sanitation, using well water for bathing and cooking) in the 70s and I can really appreciate what we have today.

Onlooker, I am sorry about your intense reply. I have actually lived in the heartland and I still do in a HDB flat but considering investing in another property now.

COnditions have been improving over the years. Have you been to the heartland and public housing in the US or even Hong Kong. Even our friendly neighbour Malaysia's public housing is no where compared to ours.

What I wrote in my response to you has nothing to do with FW. In ay case, your initial response got no mention of FW.

Now that you have brought this new point into your argument. Let me ask everyone if you are willing to pay more into housing, a bowl of noodles, cleaner toiets, etc.? I empathsize with them but everythng else would cost more if you let them live in a house like yours.

Have we checked with them what they think of their conditions back home vis-a-vis their current conditions? I have been on several business trips to India and the conditions are much worse.

For neighbourhoods around it, it affects a small group of people, which unfortunately got affected. However, it did not affect 90% of the rest of Singapore. How should a decision be made on policy then if you want a 100% solution? Is there such thing? Realistic?

Aren't they doing us a favour if my come as cheap labour and contribute.

Where did you get 18% bondbreaking rate? In any case, the big majority of 82% still stay. Isn't such a big deal, is it?

Meritocracy? It does not happen all the time. We all know there are still colleagues where we work who are more favoured than others. Even amongst siblings, some parents would prefer one child over the other. Its a reality of life. H/w, as long as mertitocracy happens majority of the time, how is this a problem? For the Government, perhaps one of their yardsticks of mertitocracy is how many 'As' one has.

How do you measure the potential of a fresh graduate with no experience? What an employer has are his grades and ECAs.... Its a standard practice even in global companies such as McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, Shell, etc.

FOr tax, I think anyone earning less than $1500 pm don't pay any. Perhaps only GST. Even in the US and Australia and Malaysia, all pay GST. However, I do agree that perhaps the GST is too high, or we are spending too little fiscally, considering how much budget surplus we typically have every year.

I feel strongly too about issues, particularly about NS but I believe we would all benefit if we could comment with some facts instead of just sweeping statements.

We could really be too hard on ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Myth 1: "conditions are still better than the 70s and 80s."

Why don't you compare the conditions now to those during the stone age? Even better lah! In democratic countries, people compare conditions from one election to another, not over 30 years! The fact is, conditions in Singapore now is worse than the last election in 2006, and a decade ago (which is the furthest we should go back. And the fact is: this is due to PAP, not due to external global recession. Eg. after 2006 election, GST went up. Influx of foreigners went up etc.

Myth 2: "Citizens denied education? What education? Tertiary? How many?"

Yes, citizens denied education. Yes, several thousands each year = tens of thousands after 40 years. For 40 years, PAP allowed only average of 10% of each cohort to enter university and through streaming, deliberately assigned the rest to vocational education. The end result is we do not have enough man-power now for the knowledge economy. As a comparison, Finland, with a comparable poln has 18 universities and Hong Kong has 8.

Myth 3: "Singaporeans have priority in local universities"

Singaporeans who fail GP are not allowed to enter universities, just a few years ago. Even today, those whose GP are poor cannot get into desired courses since GP grade is counted in the admission points. In contrast, PAP govt conduct free English lessons for PRCians and Vietnamese and Myammese potential undergards who speak little English!!!! Thus, foreigners has priority in local universities and Singaporeans are relegated to the last.

Myth 4: "only an X% are reserved for non-citizens."

More than 20% are reserved for non-citizens whereas at Harvard and MIT, only 8% of the vacancies go to foreigners and these 2 are private universities! Taxpayer-funded public universities admit even fewer. 154th-ranked straitstimes deliberately lumped postgraduate figure with undergrad figure and said MIT admits 40%. Wrong. In fact, at the postgrad level, at NUS/NTU, foreigners comprise 90%!

Anonymous said...

Myth 5: "education is encouraged in Singapore but many chose to take it too easy on their studies until its too late."

Singapore students did not take it easy. They worked very hard. But till 10 years ago, more than 50% (yeah!) of students fail their O-level English and PAP deliberately deny higher education to these people, so as to channel them to become production worker in the then manufacturing-based economy. End result is that these people cannot compete in the current knowledge economy.

Myth 6: "Perhaps in British colonial days where many were denied education, which is why many above 45 with no tertiary education find it hard in the new economy."

Those above 45 were abt 15-18 years old 30 years ago i.e. in 1979, where PAP has already been governing Singapore for 14 years!! Through its misplaced policy of denying higher education to a majority of Singaporeans (so as to fuel its manufacturing based economy which require more semi-edu workers than grads), these lowly educated people are now suffering 30 years later. I find it both hilarious and disgusting that Mr. Chronic can blame this on the British! Can he count?

Myth 7: "In the US, its 40% on your annual income, and you pay another 8% to 10% sales tax. You still get dirty streets, crime and not much at all."

In the US, tax for MILLIONARES are only 35%. Are you, Mr. Chronic, a millionaire? For the average american, the eventual tax they pay (after all the deductions and reliefs) is only 10%! Sale tax is mostly 5% in most places and essential items e.g. diapers, milk powder etc are exempted. Crimes are confined to certain notorious area. In Singapore, millionaires pay 20% and the short-fall is paid for by poor and average Singaporeans who pay a whooping 7% GST with no exemption. Disguised "tax" are abundant via COE, CPF, HDB etc. Crimes are all over the Island and you cannot find a region to move out to, such that you can avoid the crime-infested area!

Bottom-line: Singaporeans are quite well-travelled nowadays, and internet is easily available to verify statistics. It is harder to deceive Singaporeans nowadays. heheh!

Anonymous said...

Ati-chronic Singapore is correct!
King Solomon with all his riches and God's blessing did not have a flushing toilet nor double-ply toilet paper and certainly no broadband and therefore had a living standard far beneath even the poorest of the poor in Singapore.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for pointing some of the points out. This is great. At least, you don't make short sweeping statements with no facts.

1) You are right on some of the issues, particularly, those who failed GP could not get into local Universities. This, I have overlooked in my response to Onlooker. It did happen to many of my friends at that time. It is not fair to Singaporeans, considering many of the foreign students do not have GP as a subject back home.

2) For postgrad, I think our local University sucks, given the system that we have. I know many professors are still condecending and really more keen about their own pet or consulting projects than helping students.

3) You are right that those 45 were a product of the 70s. However, for those a lot older, they were products of the British System, where feeding the British economy is more important than helping locals in their colonies.

4) For Myth 4, where did you get this figure? I find it difficult to get any reliable published number about foreign intake in Singapore's Universities.

4) For tax rates, I know for a fact because this is the rate my friends are paying on Wall Street and they are not millionnaires. How and where did you derive 10% and millionaires pay 35%? I understand in China and even Japan, their tax rates are higher than Singapore

5) I do agree that we pay too much tax vis-a-vis the budget spending each year. I believe part of the yield from our reserves should be channeled to help the old and the more misfortunate.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

For those who are interested in US taxes and want to compare that to Singapore's tax rates.

In the US, one pays for both federal and state taxes. So, you may 2 taxes on your payroll. One to the federal government, one to the State Government.

Here is the link to sales tax rates in New York States:-

And its not 5% in most places. In New York City, its 8.375%.

I am using NY City because if you work there, that is where you spend the majority of your time and also because Singapore is a city-state.

Here is where you could derive your NY State tax rate:-

Here is for federal tax rates:-

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

More on NY sales tax. This is the latest from Wikipedia:-

New York has a 4% state sales tax. All counties and some cities add local taxes ranging from 3% to 4.75%. The combined sales tax in Utica, New York, for example, is 8.75%. In New York City, total sales tax is 8.875%, which includes 0.375% charged for the service of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

There is no New York City sales tax imposed on the purchase of clothing and footwear regardless of the amount. As of September 1, 2007, New York State has eliminated sales tax on all clothing and shoes if the single item is priced under $110. Most counties and cities have not eliminated their local sales taxes on clothing and shoes. There are however, 11 counties and 5 cities (most notably New York City, New York, Queens, Kings, Richmond, and Bronx Counties, which make up New York City are not counted) that have done so. The counties where the year-round exemption will apply include: Chautauqua, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Hamilton, Madison (outside the City of Oneida), Rensselaer, Tioga, Broome, and Wayne. The cities where the year-round exemption will apply include: Gloversville, New York City, Norwich, Olean, Binghamton, and Sherrill. New York also exempts college textbooks from sales tax.

As of June 1, 2008, when products are purchased online and shipped into New York State, some retailers must charge the tax amount appropriate to the locality where the goods are shipped, and in addition, must also charge the appropriate tax on the cost of shipping and handling. The measure states that any online retailer that generates more than $10,000 in sales via in-state sales affiliates must collect New York sales tax. The cumulative gross receipts from sales to New York customers as a result of referrals by all of the seller’s resident representatives total more than $10,000 during the preceding four quarterly sales tax periods.

As of August 1, 2009, New York City Sales tax increased to 8.875%. Clothing under $110 will remain tax free. Clothing above $110 will be taxed.

Xtrocious said...

I think Anti-Chronic forgot about an extremely regressive "tax"...

No, I am not talking about the GST

Instead, I was refering to the CPF contribution - capped at 20% and up to S$4000...

Would we even see the money when we retire (and at what age is still a great unknown)...sigh

Amused said...

Anti-Chronic Singapore

On the surface, it seems that Americans pay much higher tax than Singaporeans. However, they have many more deductions/exemptions that can be claimed compared to Singapore. For example, are you aware that mortgage interest and property tax paid can be used to offset income tax in the US?

I would also say that Americans get more value for their tax: Social Security, Welfare, etc. (Their current Medical is not too good, unfortunately.)

CPF is a form of tax. It is like the US Social Security Tax (which pays out money after a person has reached a certain age) + Medicare Tax. So that's a base tax rate of 34% for Singaporeans. (Assuming employers paying the extra 14% to employees in absence of CPF).

I like Singapore's tax code for its simplicity, but I don't like all the other "hidden taxes". It also does not mean that we're effectively paying a lot less taxes compared to Americans. You can't just consider taxes based on stated percentages.

Also, the 40% you quoted only applies to people earning $200,000 or more in the US. If I earn that much money, I'd gladly pay 40%. That would still leave me $120,000, or about 4x my salary BEFORE tax and CPF here in Singapore.

PanzerGrenadier said...

Anti-Chronic Singapore

Is this the pap internet machinery at work?

For each one of us to decide.

Majullah Singapura.

Onlooker said...

Ermm Achronic I bring in FW because you set up a bhutan strawman for me so I must return the favour.
But I was kind of hoping you have some real insight you can share about the massive import of FW eroding the values of setting up a home here(A place where you can go back to knowing it is a safe? and clean? environment to live in) here in uniquely.
So allow me to have the head start.The value of setting up a home and family here is eroded when the child of new citizen choose to remain a PR so that he can return to his home country when should our nation fail(if we allow the current complacency that in ingrained in the incumbent garment to grow).
Personally I found it disturbing that you are giving politically correct answer in a manner that seem to be trying to desperately to score brownie points but granted that there is a possibility that your spouse or someone close to you is a FW I will let it slip.

What to do? It happened....

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

Dear Xtrocious and PanzerGrenadier,

First and foremost, I am not PAP nor affiliated with any political parties for that matter.

I am sharing so we could all share and learn from each other, develop thinking and share insights. I have learnt a lot from Mr Wang's posts.

I am also sharing health tips I picked up and experienced over time, which I find lacking in Singapore.

I do not have a blanket like or dislike for any political party. I would rather look at what are good and bad of each party.

I believe for a big party like the PAP, they have their fair share of internal politics of alphas jockeying to be selected for the next GE. Unless invited, perhaps its wise to steer clear.

Please note that it is not entirely a political party that runs the show. The Civil Service consists of an army of policymakers who are not PAP members. So, I believe sometimes the PAP takes too much credit and also the flake too. Do some of us really know what a Permanent Secretary does and how the Government machinery works?

I have heard from the grapevine that some Perm Secs are very powerful and they can run circles around weak ministers. Ngiam and Philip Yeo are not PAP members and yet they were very powerful and influential.

I do agree that CPF is a regressive tax and we may not be able to get our money back at the end of day. However, if we look at Western and Japanese models, you will realize their models of social security and other spending are causing huge budget deficits, which I doubt is sustainable.

I think there are no quick answers

Nobody really knows how much is enough for retirement, and how much CPF should be sufficient, and how long we would all eventually live.

I believe we should all be responsible for ourselves, which is more within our control. If required, I would want to continue to work.

In my other comments on Mr Wang's other posts, I mentioned I was jobless for almost a year.

With my savings, I didn't really change my lifestyle habits. I can tell you there is that much golf, idle, reading, social work, travel for leisure, learning new skills (baking, fengshui, iching, chinese medicine, etc.) and worked on a business (which I learnt about the good and bad of our Government bidding system), before getting really bored and wonder if there is any meaning in life.

Perhaps that is why many billionaires still work very hard. The difference could be they may have more passion than you and me.

Which reminded me that there is one more dislike about Singapore - It is very hard to be an entrepreneur in Singapore because our population is still so small and so dominated by GLCs.

Ever wonder why Singapore and HK, which almost have the same GDP and we have a lot less billionaires and millionaires than HK? My hypothesis is Singapore Government has more control of the wealth here.

Anonymous said...

lol antichronic:
i hope you are not a troll :)
i live in DC, and so i pay "US" taxes.
I can't quite remember the GST here, but it's prolly somewhere 5-7%. as for income tax, it's like what's mentioned, there is fed and then there is state.

I definitely don't earn 200k per annum, but I earn kinda OK salary, and I pay about 35% taxes (i think it's around 33%, but 35 is a good estimate).

I don't get some of the perks that PR/citizens do of course (state tuition subsidy and all that), but I honestly feel that I may have "saved" and "earned" more money thanks to CPF. but the problem is that I can only see but not touch my CPF money. I'm not sure if you can call it your money or not in that case.

This is almost like HDB housing in singapore. it's theoretically yours, until HDB can unilaterally decide to strip your rights and ownership. it's all very technical, and you don't actually "own" anything in essence.

this is how singapore is run, with very tight controls, and you are given rights within their purview. That means that once you are deemed unworthy, your rights are stripped, and that includes rights to your house and money, some very fundamental and critical aspects of life in general.

i'm not saying US is much better (taxes, medical/healthcare), but i'm just saying that if i buy a house in US, i know i own the land and the house, and in fact, I can shoot anybody who trespass it without permission. That is real ownership, where only I can make decisions and nobody else tells me to get out when they are unhappy with me.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments. Good stuff. With your post, at least some know I did not make up the 35% tax rates. Sales tax varies from state to state in the US. Some states do not collect sales tax, e.g. NJ.

For property like you rightly mentioned, HDB could even evict you if you throw killer litter, etc. Read the fine print.

This is why I suggested we should try to own landed property in Singapore, if we can.

Before you buy, do research on URA's Masterplan first to ensure what you are buying is not annexed for MRT or some other land use.

No perfect country. In China, the lease of land is only 70 years.

I have mentioned before we must have skills that are transferable across countries and consider ourselves global citizens.

Amused said...

Anti-Chronic Singapore

America and Japan might have budget deficit providing social security for their people. However, they at least are trying to give their people some security.

With the latest twist in CPF's terms, where they stated explicitly that they can reduce payment/stop paying you in the event of insolvency (essentially whenever they feel like it since it is totally opaque and we don't know its true state), the current Singapore has decided that it is better for its people to suffer rather than go into deficit (despite all the surplus it has made over the years). Singapore would rather have more Military spending than Social spending.

You doubt that their system is unsustainable. Fair enough. Indeed the Japanese are now worried that they won't get anything back despite paying their pension premium. So their contribution (especially from the younger generation) is decreasing.

However, in Singapore's case, where "contribution is compulsary, but if we mismanage your retirement fund, it is not our problem", we can't opt out. What good is a system that may end up doing absolutely NOTHING for the people?

In Japan, even people who does not have the financial means to pay their basic pension premium are still entitled to get some money out of the system.


Anonymous said...

What Anti-chronic experienced is quite typical of the baby boomer experience in Singapore.

Happiness is not about wealth or possessions. If you whip a slave 10 times a day, then 9, then 8, then 7, then 6, then finally stopping at 5 a day, the slave will feel that life is getting better, and feel this warm and fuzzy feeling called happiness.

In contrast, younger Singaporeans get whipped 5 times a day too, and ask "Why am I getting whipped at all?", which, to the baby boomer is a stupid question.

Furthermore, baby boomers may be subject to the same tax system as young Singaporeans, but they had disproportionately benefited from the decades of PAP promoted asset inflation bubble. The shortcomings of the government is easily overlooked when one feels wealthy and "in control".

Young Singaporeans, however, have little or no asset to be inflated by government policies. All we get are rising costs of living. However little DIRECT taxes we pay, we get almost no government services in return. Without riding an asset bubble, the young Singaporean needs to set aside a significant amount of wealth just to avoid getting wiped out by healthcare bills. Something an Australian or Canadian need not worry about.

Lastly, anti-chronic is just about old enough to start realising that Singapore does not have an "exit strategy" for old people. Low tax rate and high asset inflation is good if you are earning money and accumulating assets, rotten if you are retired and sold your assets. Rising costs of living and costs of healthcare bites you in the butt and wipes out your wealth. From being the prick who does not want to pay taxes for other people's healthcare costs, anti-chronic will become the prick who wonders why young people dont respect the old and help with his bills. That will come, real soon.

But for now, anti-chronic is happy and wealthy and has no ears for grousing. The government's job is to keep the baby boomers, the bulging part of our population pyramid, happy.

When the structure of Singapore's economy change and the asset bubble threatened to burst, what does the government do? Flood Singapore with foreigners and build casinos. The baby boomers must be kept in their drunk orgy!

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...


If you would read my other comments on other posts on this blog, you will realize I am past my 30s, so I am not a baby boomer.

In fact, I believe there are more opportunities for younger people with the relevant education and skills. (e.g. Wealth management, Medical care, Legal profession, etc.)

My dad, your definition of babyboomer, started out with S$100 pm in the late 60s and bought a HDB for $8000 in the early 70s.

Nowadays, if you have a good education, you could also choose to work overseas.

During their time, there isn't any and one is considered highly educated if you have 'O' levels.

Like I mentioned in my previous posts, think of what you could do. All your angry words online would not amount to anything. And having lived in the US and Australia, its not a bed of roses there either.

Happiness? Have u been to Bhutan? Happiest country on earth but I doubt anyone of us would want to live there long-term.

Save $, work smart and get into housing or planning your retirement as soon as you can.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:26am

U cant read is it?

ACS had plenty of golf, leisure while ... out of work for 1 YEAR ... u are obviously living in a different reality to him.

Anonymous said...

"This is why I suggested we should try to own landed property in Singapore, if we can." - ACS


I suggest every Singaporean should try to earn at least S$1 million per year, if they can.

And get an MBA from Harvard and run the Marathon under 3 hours and compete in Ironman and have 3 kids (or more) and pick up French cooking and serve in Red Cross\Crescent for a year and pick up yoga and learn Japanese + German + Spanish + French and scale Mt Everest. If they can.

Anonymous said...


Google Pyramid Club. They exist. Really. Vivian used to run the junior club.

Anonymous said...


The baby boomer generation is roughly defined as those born between 1946 to 1965, give or take a few years. Google "baby boomer" if you dont believe me. 1965 seems such a significant year that PAP has co-opted it, seemingly to suggest that life gotten better after independence. I mean, LKY seized power in 1959. Shouldnt we talk about the post 1959 generation?

The baby boomer generation is the generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll. This is the first generation whose growing up was not disrupted by war. This is the generation who saw their lives improving all the time so much so that they think it is their birthright.

Unlike the subsequent generations who had to face intense competition for their place in the world, the baby boomers had freedom to fill the space left vacant by the generation devastated if not killed in the world wars.

This is the generation of greed and conspicuous consumption. Knowing that asset values can only go up, the "smart" boomers borrowed aggressively to accumulate assets and were rewarded richly and spent big. Unlike the frugal pre-war generation, this group had money to spend and created economic "growth" as far as consumption is concerned.

And of course they are in a hurry to reward themselves for this "growth". The cabinet of million dollar ministers are all baby boomers. Minus LKY, the pre-war generation of ministers did the hardest work but didnt get to smell the millions.

Then something changed. Maybe the "Stop at two" policy changed the way children are raised. Maybe legalising abortion devalued the value of children. Or maybe it is just the baby boomer's turn to be parents and they are just not into it.

Whatever it be, birthrate started to fall in the developed world by 1965. The decline started a little later in Singapore but was in full swing down ever since the mid 70s.

PAP also sense something had changed with those born after 1965. Unlike the baby boomers whose obedient voting turned Singaporean democracy into a farce, the generation born between 1965 and 1980, the Generation X, cannot be reliably counted upon to vote PAP.

How is it this generation who grew up in unprecedented sanitation and educational opportunities be so frustrated with the status quo?

Could it be that this generation grew up with the promises of the opportunities of the boomers but when we leave school, the boomers are still occupying the prime spots in management while we have to fight tooth and nail with each other for the scraps? Could it be that Gen X is the first generation to earn less than their fathers when income is inflation adjusted? Could it be that Generation X is the first generation whose early working life is disrupted by endless recessions and corporate restructurings, the first generation that has no concept of lifelong employment? The first generation to compete head on with machines replacing entry level menial tasks? The first generation who has to make unsavory choice of either making big loans without job security or be left behind in the asset bubble?

When the dust is settled, historians will look back and conclude that this housing crisis in the US is due to the retirement and scaling back in consumption, of the baby boomer generation and there will be no "recovery" in the traditional sense.

The baby boomer generation is the generation that believes exploiting the environment, cutting down trees, drilling oil, building smoke stack factories and irresponsible fishing, is economic "growth". The good news is that the environmental devastation will ease when this generation dies.

But in a one man one vote democratic system, this generation are still empowered to drag the rest of the world into the grave with them.

Anti-Chronic Singapore said...


Interesting and good thinking although I sense you are a little morbid. I am optimistic of the future although I see some truth in what you wrote.

Many so-called baby boomers in Singapore did not even have proper education during British days where schools were scarce. My mum didn't even finish primary 3. My dad was bright and earned a place to study law in Cambridge during the British days but did not get there because my grandfather refused to let him, fearing he may never return.

I lived most of my childhood just getting by but I understood from young the value of education from observing the difference between my father and mother. I didn't manage to get a scholarship but I am always amongst the top 10 to 15% of my class in my undergraduate days.

Subsequently, I managed to save enough money to do my postgraduate, worked for an International brand name Institution after graduation.

So, I did not have it easy. It was through working hard and smart. I also believe luck is important because you need to do the right thing at the right time and choose the right career, if you can.

I also started to understand my strengths and limitations after working along those from Harvard, Insead, Chicago, etc. Believe me, there are many others far more intelligent, we could imagine.

I also understand that non-discrimination is an ideal.

Although I do not entirely like all the policies of the current government, I am still thankful for the primary an secondary education I received, which helped me to ace entry exams to foreign institutions.

When I was overseas, I feel proud being a Singaporean. I have thought long and hard about why and sadly its largely our economic growth. We are typiclly associated as a small rich nation, Lee Kuan Yew, caning, etc.

Economic growth is important. There is a Chinese saying,"Money is not everything but without money, there is nothing." Feed our stomachs first and worry about other issues later.

Every generation has its own set of problems. My parents' generation have to deal with Japanese Occupation (which my grandfather was tortured and almost killed), high unemployment and racial riots.

We could never fully comprehend their anxiety and likewise for them to understand ours.

However, let's not fetter. There is always hope. We just have to get our own act together, define our own success, and work towards our own realistic goals.

One of my uncles is in his early 50s and he is still studying for his undergraduate in a local university, enroling at the same time as my cousin. I asked him why. He said that is what he always wanted and he believes it could take his professional skills to a higher level.

Never say die. You will eventually find your own way.

Stay healthy.

Onlooker said...

well said Anon @ August 12, 2009 7:03 PM