Thursday, November 7, 2013

Singapore a tiny island of contrasts. The super rich amidst the forgotten poor

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore's economy can be explained as an island which attracts the business in the hope that while they make more money, the ordinary man will be thrown the crumbs. Trickle down economy, Singapore style. Unfortunately the plan so far has succeeded only on one side; the rich have done very well indeed but the ordinary man has never seen any crumbs trickle to them at all.

It is an island where Ferraris and Lamborginis whizz by containing their Chinese millionaires who had only recently moved to Singapore after having embezzled state owned enterprises in China while the vast majority of Singaporeans cannot afford cars not to mention even three meals a day let alone Ferraris.

It is becoming a sort of the Arab Emirate of Dubai where wealthy Singapore millionaires live in their posh skyscrapers while the average Singaporean lives in dormitory towns called HDB apartment blocks, pigeon hole shoe-box, government built and owned accommodation ubiquitous throughout the island.

In a state owned and controlled media without any investigative journalism, you never hear the bad news.

The good times have simply blown past the ordinary man. The island is intended for the rich only.

Lee's Father and Son Singapore makes it as attractive as possible for businesses to move to Singapore. To do this, you do away with any minimum wage laws; you criminalize workers strikes; no employment security where you hire and fire; you deny free speech expression or assembly; you permit as many foreigners from third world countries to work in Singapore to suppress wages to become even more competitive; you deny free trade unions; you nationalize and control all newspapers and media so that there will be no criticism of businesses; you deny any form of welfare handouts to discourage idleness; you neglect the handicapped and the weak and force their children to fend for them; all in the expectation that the island will have the world's cheapest compliant and obedient labor anywhere in the world.

And all this in a tiny speck of an island which is no more than 26 miles across and 16 miles on the north south radial, containing no more than perhaps 2 million Singapore natives and 3 million foreigners and rising.

They expect this repressive labor climate of obedience , submission and cheap labor to attract the largest number of businesses so that they would provide the largest number of jobs.

Unfortunately most of these jobs are simply worthless. What is the use of having a job which does not pay a living wage?

The average man with a family requires at least about $3,000.00 a month in one of the most expensive cities in the world, while many workers only earn about half this amount or even less because of the flood of foreigners.

As a result many go without food, or eat only one meal a day or rely on soup kitchens. In a highly built up concrete jungle such as this, it is not always possible to see the poverty and misery in many in their one room apartments in the eye but rest assured it does exist.

In a resource challenged island such as this, one would have thought their people to be the island's greatest resource to be protected but unfortunately the government does not look at it that way. The consequence of such a misguided policy continues to hurt the very existence of the island. It results in the poor families children losing out on education and falling further behind the economic ladder, increased violence and a general disinterest in their own lives or that of their nation.

It results in a disconnect between the people and the government because they don't see the need to cooperate when their government has no concern for them.

It also results in increased emigration, continuing drop in fertility rates and a lack of marriages and more single people. In addition to the all this the population has a large aging segment of elderly who are simply dying, the product of the 1950s baby boom.

Something has to give and we expect to see that when 90 year old and gravely ill Lee senior dies this week or the next when the Son will become irrelevant.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525


Anonymous said...

I'm one of the rich guys that you write about. I find Singapore to be a safe place for me and my family. The government welcomes me and my friends.

You say that things are 'bad' for the locals due to 'bad' government policies. If so, why do the locals keep voting for the same government?

Frankly, I am not bothered by the plight of the locals. There are more foreigners than locals in Singapore.

And to keep wages down, my company can always bring in lower-cost people from the rest of Asia.

Not my problem. But I do enjoy reading your blog, for a laugh.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous,

I understand why you say this. You do not really understand Singapore. If the people vote for the government, it is because 1. there are no real qualified opposition because of fear or because they have been threatened and removed 2. There is a danger in voting for opposition because they know who you are.

I thank you for being frank admitting you laugh at what I write. You have shown the true plight of the locals because this is what really is happening. The government simply does not care and life turns out better for you, a foreigner, than the locals.

Anonymous said...

I thank you for being frank admitting you laugh at what I write.


My words are callous, I know, but I am calling it the way I see it.

I understand that you tried to stand up to the government, and I admire you for that. I am more impressed that you moved to the USA and are continuing the fight from there.

Courage and prudence in a person are good qualities. Sadly lacking with your former countrymen.

Like I said life for me a a foreigner in Singapore is great.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of Singaporeans calling themselves educated and making themselves feel superior over poorer Asian neighbours when they do not have the sense to see that they are being ignored and they are being overrun by the very Asian neighbours they look down on.

With overcrowding, floods and smog affecting the quality of life on the tiny island - is there still a future for kids?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, all of you have got it very wrong. Let us all wake up and try to
understand this. The PAP can and will do whatever they like because they know
that they can never be defeated even if 80% of Singaporeans don't support them.
Why? It is because of the wicked and unfair GRC scheme which was introduced by
the old fart many few years back to guarantee their perpetual survival. Most of
the seats they secure in Parliament are won through walkovers. If more opposition
comes up, all they need to do is to change electoral boundaries and increase GRCs
in numbers and content and they will always sail home through walkovers. Because
of this, the actual scenario of the last election may have been 40% support PAP
and 60% against instead of the other way around.
This scheme also allows inferior PAP members to get into Parliament by the back
door through walkover wards. The election department is not independent and under
the full control of the PAP where they are free to change electoral boundaries
and manipulate GRC wards by increasing the wards in number and content to stump
any future strong Oppositions.
Moreover, where is the justice where the ruling party appear to achieve 60% of
votes and dominate Parliament by 93% (81 of 87 seats)? Similarly, that means if
PAP achieve 40% of votes, they will still be the majority in Parliament with 62
out of 87 seats. Therefore PAP is always emboldened to do whatever they like
because they know that they cannot be booted out of Parliament even if 60% of
Singaporeans do not vote for them. The real solution is for all Singaporeans &
Oppositions to unite and explore all possible ways to dismantle the cheating and
unfair GRC scheme controlled by the PAP before the next 2016 elections.