Sunday, October 16, 2016

Singapore's economy collapsing, unemployment and layoffs hitting the roof, currency losing value. Singaporeans should leave the island before it is too late.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The truth has finally come to roost. Singapore's economy is steadily heading to a total collapse. Unemployment and layoffs are increasing daily. The Singapore dollar is steadily losing value, to a 7 month low and still dropping. Very soon it will be worthless like the Venezuelan Bolivar. The vast majority of Singaporeans can leave the island if they want. They can sell their government apartments now and make some money before it's value hits rock bottom. My advice to Singaporeans is to leave Singapore now. Try to reach Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA or any other European country which will take you. Don't wait until it is too late when you will have nothing left. There are no prospects anymore in Singapore. This is my advice to you.

First the economy is on it's final descent to a crash landing.
According to this Singapore government state controlled newspaper Singapore Straits Times Business, it reads "Poor GDP figures point to long slow down for Singapore". The third quarter GDP growth has just been 0.6 percent, the lowest in 4 years, and dropping.

The office crowd in the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore.
It is OK if it is just one off decline due to volatilities of business. But this is certainly not a one-off thing. This is like the barometer of a vessel at sea which has been dropping at a steady rate over the last 4 years. If this was the Titanic, the captain would have told you that they are heading into the eye of the storm. This is exactly true in the case of Singapore, with it's economic barometer. It's economy is indeed heading into the eye of an economic storm.

If Singapore has economic potential to recover, there could be hope. Unfortunately the Singapore which Lee Kuan Yew created has serious structural issues. He created a system which is simply doomed to failure. Although it had worked short term, on a long term trajectory, it is simply hopeless. It really has nothing to offer and simply is no longer competitive with the rest of the world.

Let's look at what Singapore has. It has an airport and Singapore Airlines. Gone are the days when Singapore Airlines did any better or cheaper than anyone else. Every other country in the region including Australia have excellent airlines. And with several Singapore crashes including the one in Taipei which killed hundreds in a 747 due to the pilot taking off on disused runway, its reputation is rather suspect. Any passenger would rather fly Qantas, which has a perfect safety record. Singapore airlines no longer has the edge which it once had. It is simply just another airline, no better no worse.

And then you have Singapore Airport. Today the hub and spoke concept which favored airports such as Singapore is non existent. Previously wide bodied aircraft needed to use airport such as Singapore because of longer runways and better facilities. Today this is no longer the case. An A380 can land in Kuala Lumpur Jakarta or Ho Chi Minh City . Every other neighboring country have been busy extending runways and improving airports. So the days of Singapore's advantage are simply over.

And then you have the oil and gas industry as well as the oil rig manufacture. These are not something that is special to Singapore. Any country from Albania to AndalucĂ­a can make oil rigs if they want. No need for Singapore rigs. As for the oil refining and storage business other countries have already begun overtaking Singapore. Qatar has already stated publicly that they are building facilities specifically to overtake Singapore and they have the advantage of being next to the source. So you really don't have any advantage here either.

Then there is tourism and shopping, both in steady decline for obvious reasons. In the past Singapore had an advantage in duty free cheap goods. Today the prices in Singapore are 3 times that in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta thanks to the steadily rising office and store rental costs, which is why Singapore is the most expensive country in the world. As most shoppers and tourists come from nearby third world countries and do not have deep pockets, they are not going to shop in Singapore because it is simply too expensive. And there goes your tourism and shopping trade.

And then you have some biotech and manufacturing industry which both suffer from the same problems of high costs and no special advantage. Today at the costs prevailing in the island, you can manufacture the product in Dusseldorf at not much difference in price. So what is the need to place your plant in Singapore when it costs nothing more to have it in your own country.

In the past due to lower tax benefits, advanced countries still found it beneficial to locate their industry in third countries. Today this loophole is literally gone for American companies. The US government is bringing out all sorts of disincentives, very soon you would hardly find US firms in Singapore since you can produce them back home at same costs and tax. Perhaps other Western countries may continue but for how long is pretty uncertain.

Another Singapore state controlled newspaper "Business Review" has this report "Unemployment and Redundancies in services sector loom amid weak economy" See

This is an alarming report because 72% of Singapore's workforce is employed in the services industry. This includes retail stores, bank clerks, office workers, government employees and so on. If there is unemployment in the services sector this means thousands of Singaporeans, the vast majority, being unemployed with no work and no money. As Singapore provides no social welfare or unemployment benefits, what this means is starvation on a mass scale.

The obvious reason for the downturn in the services sector is because every sector of the economy is connected to each other. If the manufacturing and export industry is impacted, so will the services sector.

And then the Singapore dollar is steadily losing value. According to the state owned Channel News Asia report of October 14, 2016, "Singapore Dollar hits 7 month low on lackluster growth outlook" The report states that the  Singapore currency has hit a 7 month low and continuing to steadily depreciate. It is simply  losing all it's  value .

If it was any other country with these figures, one would not have worried too much. Most countries have an in built ability to right itself and rebound when things go wrong. This is because they are democratic countries where the citizens have the ability to think of new ideas and new enterprises and create wealth. Not in Singapore. You have there a docile timid obedient society which lives in fear of their  rulers and therefore are incapable of thinking or doing anything by themselves. They are waiting for the government to create jobs for them. But since the government itself have simply run out of ideas, waiting for the  government to do things for them is simply not going to happen. For Singapore to succeed it constantly has to have something others do not have. It needs to have an edge. Today this island has nothing to offer that anyone else does not have. This decline is going to continue until final collapse.

And finally Singapore is an obnoxious place to live. There are no freedoms and the political leaders are corrupt and pay themselves millions while as much as half the population live at or below the poverty line. You couldn't even call this island a banana republic because there are no bananas.

My advice for Singaporeans is not to wait until it is too late. The writing is already on the wall. Pack up, liquidate your properties and leave for the west. It is good for you and for your children. There is no hope in Singapore island. There is hope overseas.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in exile
Fremont (San Francisco)  USA
Tel: 510 491 8525
Email: nair.gopalan


jacques said...

Gopalan: I have read that Lee Hsien-Loong's salary, at 1.7 million dollars U.S. per year, is as much as that of the leaders of India, Brazil, Italy, Russia, France, Turkey, Japan, the U.K., South Africa and Germany combined. Even the U.S. President only makes about 40 dollars per year.

On the page, someone wrote, "but Obama has major security and travel expenses which might not be included in the figure." Even *if* that's true, S'pore is only about half the size of NYC. Plus, the figure does not even include the many Singaporean ministers and junior ministers, each of whom often makes a million dollars or more per annum. U.S. politicians on average don not make nearly as much.

As you have pointed out, Singapore doesn't have any natural resources to fall back on in troubled economic times, and it doesn't really have a competitive edge over most other countries anymore, especially Southeast Asian nations and Australia. I've taken S'pore Airline and it was OK, but airlines in Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia are likely just as good, not to mention Australia's Qantas.

Is it true that S'pore has no welfare system or U.I.(Unemployment Insurance) at all? Even Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have some welfare and U.I. to help jobless or disabled people, though their respective systems are not very generous, compared with many Western countries.

Anonymous said...

Gopalan: it's Jacques. In my comment above, I meant to say the the U.S. President earns about 400 thousand dollars U.S. per year, and not 40 dollars, obviously :)