A Reply: Singapore – a country of extremes

This is a rebuttal in response to the article: http://singaporemind.blogspot.sg/2012/03/singapore-country-of-extremes.html
There has been a document circulating the internet on a blog called “Singapore Mind” titled “Singpore a Country of extremes”. It is no secret that this article is trying to achieve an agenda and this piece of rubbish is a good example of how a casual writer exploits difficult problems, blowing up an issue to their benefit.
Here is a breakdown of his grouses and i’ll attempt to answer it as simply as possible:
High COE
How do you cater for both a free market and a need to reduce the number of cars? Don’t you realize no matter how expensive cars are, more people are buying? (This also points to rising incomes btw)
High electricity tariffs
It is strange that he makes reference to “the online citizen” – a well known anti-etablishment site. If you run a quick check yourself, it shows that Singapore is not even in the top 15 amongst the developed nations [link]
And by the way, unless you’re living on a mountain, you should know that oil rates are increasing around the world and prices will rise.
Low fertility rate
Low fertility rate has been disucssed and again, it is a problem of all first world countries and this has already been discussed here: [link]
Foreign influx
Population and foreigners have traditionally been exploited as a political tool in any country. People have an aversion to foreign bodies. This has already been discussed here: [link]
Working long hours
Sure, we clock in 40 hours of work a week, but is this something the Government has put into policy, or is this something that our culture brings upon itself? Study Taiwan, China and most famously Japan – it is in Asian culture not to leave before the boss does. MCYS has been trying to promote work-life balance but companies just do not want to take it up. I’ve even heard from an employee of an MNC “our company is proud that we’re hardworking and do not have the MCYS work-life family award”.
Many imported millionaires
The writer makes this statement as his own assumption. I’ll make my own observable assumption: the country is getting richer, creating more opportunities for business and rich get ultimately richer. Even the poor will get richer, albeit at a slower pace. What about all those rich families? Their offspring are now enjoying the fruits of long established business that have thrived in an economically rich Singapore.
World’s unhappiest
Again, this writer pulls reference from sites that fulfill his exploits. But here we see Singapore is the happiest in Asia and ranked at 26th in the world. [link] I mean sure, voted as very happy people is a bit extreme, but hey, if CNN wants to give us that title, there must be some merit to it right?
Lowest paid maids due to levy
On one hand, the article attacks foreign influx, and in the same article he’s crying foul over not being able to bring in cheap labour due to the levy. Well, here’s a solution, why not consider the British system of using Au Pairs?
Cabbies with degrees
This assumption is not even empirical. But let’s view this with another perspective: the education system is working so well, so many of us already have good qualifications, and at 2% unemployment, your paper is not going to be as important as other variables such as your character.
Have elderly cleaners
Again, this is a factor of society and not the Government. Do not forget that once upon a time, Singaporeans did not have access to good education and a good economical environment. There are many programs in place to help these people, but it is up to the individual to want to accept help.
To sum up
 
It is so easy to mislead a reader into thinking that we’re living in such a miserable environment. Ironically, the writer pulls in many references and links from SPH mediums – a medium believed to be “government controlled”.
It takes only a small handful of content makers on the internet to create the vast amount of attacks that you read everyday.
Take a step back and observe for a second: Singapore is not as bitter as the writer describes.
If you want to find faults, the faults will be there. Few medicines can deliver a cure without a side effect and i’d rather deal with a few small side effects than a full blown disease.
 
Post writing notes:
 
A friend of mine sent me the following comments, here it is for your consideration:
 
1. Have lowest unemployment in the world of <2%
2. We have 3rd highest GDP per capita in the world
3. We are top 10 least corrupt nation in the world
4. We are top 10 safest nation in the world
5. We have the highest home ownership in the world
6. Singapore is in the top 1% earners. There is no absolute poverty as defined by World Bank
7. We have the top 5 education system in the world
8. Our healthcare is one of the best in the world
9. We have one of the lowest taxes in the world
10. We are the top 5 in savings in the world
 
Too many “in the world” statements if you ask me, makes my hair stand. But the truth is the truth isn’t it?

About the author

Benjamin Chiang

Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes also at www.rangosteen.com and occasionally on Yahoo!

The views expressed are his own.

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