8 issues Roy never considers in his criticisms 

 

Now before Roy thinks that I’m picking on him, I’m not. He’s always preaching discourse, debate and exchange, i’m just highlighting a few things that I realised he never discusses in any of his articles. And even if he does, he piles on layers of unrelated statistics that never answers the concern.

Perhaps Roy might be able to address his thoughts on these clearly in a future article, but he somehow fails to consider that:

 

1. That other countries have high taxes

The countries that he wants us to emulate, are mostly welfare rich European nations. Sure they have free education/healthcare/transport etc ..but there is only one way that these countries can afford all this: high taxes.

Are Singaporeans ready to pay up to 40% of taxes to the Government?

Have a look at this beautiful map with data from OECD:

taxes

2. That these European countries have been trading BEFORE we were a fishing village

Norway, Sweden, Britain… these countries have developed very strong economic grounds long before Singapore was even a thing. They’ve got Nestle, Rolex, Nokia, Ford… they have had a long history of trading with each other and have built an economic system that is robust and strong for hundreds of years.

Who can Singapore rely on if we were to erode economically?

 

3. CPF is not a tax

CPF is a bank account that’s managed by a tight-fisted manager (the government). It’s your money, except you can’t use it to buy whatever you want (not at least until you’re 55). You can however use it to buy property, pay for education and investments.

CPF pays you interest rates. Taxes don’t.

CPF can be withdrawn by you (subject to strict rules). Taxes don’t.

CPF will be returned to your family in cash when you die. Taxes do not.

CPF-GST-medication(100DPI)

 

4. Singapore is land scarce

When Roy talks about cheap houses, cheap cars and cheap food in these European countries, he doesn’t explain why all this stuff is so cheap. Here’s why: they have lots of land.

More land to build bigger houses – cheap houses.

More land to build more roads – cheaper cars.

More land to raise cows/pigs/chickens/potatos – cheaper food.

No land to do all this – expensive country.

Here’s a map of the world just to remind ourselves how much land we have:

world map

 

5. We adopt financial prudence

Some of the criticisms he launches include those on our sovereign wealth funds, ie. GIC.

Why is our money locked away to invest and make more money? Why can’t this money be released to the country to help more of our people?

This is the difficulty charged to the Government: you’re supposed to help our people AND you’re supposed to find this money at the start of the term of your Government.

Whatever political party it is that takes over at the next elections, they have to find their own money. The money accumulated by the prudence of previous years is required by the Constitution to be locked away for investment.

I won’t attempt to answer on behalf of the Government why they are so stingy – but think about it, if it was your finances, wouldn’t you be as careful too?

 

6. There is good subsidy at the hospital

If you’ve ever visited a Government hospital, you’ll have found out that drugs, hospitalisation and complex procedures are heavily subsidised.

My father was hospitalised for two weeks last December. His bill came up to about $12k…and how much did we have to fork out in cash? Zero.

Yes – outpatient treatments and some medical tests do cost money, but to say that we “cannot afford to fall sick” is a bit of an exaggeration. And to date, there had been zero cases of hospital refusing treatment because of money.

reformmedishield_1

 

7. Authorities had never kept quiet at his accusations

Some people say that the government has never replied to Roy and thus that means that they’ve been silent and sweeping these accusations away.

Well, they did. They just didn’t start it with “Dear Roy, we read your articles and felt obliged to reply to you”.

The government has their own weird way of communicating with members of the public. They’ve revamped their websites, made press releases and hosted thousands of conversations (and Roy was even invited to one of these if I’m not wrong).

CPFChange2.gif

(yup…this is how the government communicates…)

8. We don’t all have a victim’s mentality

At the heart of Roy’s arguments, is the underlying tone that we are all victims. And I don’t share that sentiment. I understand that there is a country to run and there are conflicting interests to consider.

Not everything is going to be fair to me. In fact, that’s what I teach my 3 year old daughter: that life is not fair, and is never going to be fair. The sooner she learns this, the better for her.

The government can go about doing its business and as long as it leaves my taxes alone, as long as there are jobs and I am generally free pursuing my own interests and that the government generally leaves me alone, I’m more than happy.

Building a nation goes beyond political rhetoric.

 

 

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About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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13 Comments

  • Dear Singaporean,

    Firstly i am not a singaporean (wish I was!) i truly recommend your writing…so well expressed and in so sincere a way. I have to respond! Whenever i am over seas with my wife (a Singaporean, thank her kamma for that) when the question arises as to my origin, i unashamedly lie “Singaporean”! That is how much i admire your leaders and your country. I could write a book on the wisdom of being a singaporean. In any situation, unfortunately, you have many creepies and crawlies…singapore have them to a small extent. But these are the “things’ that keep right thinking like you busy..combating them. WELL DONE TAY LEONG TAN.

    • Are our egos so big that we do not speak to fools? And what of those who were poisoned by fools? If we cannot stop the poison, the least we can do is to release antidotes.

  • This isn’t surprising. Leftists like Roy always lie, and they have to lie because the policies they always advocate for never work in the long run (though they always look fantastic in the short-run to draw in the suckers).

    It’s the same for leftists everywhere, even in the US with Obamacare.

    Selective use of information is the most common trick in their playbook. It’s a good thing that Roy isn’t smart enough to know the rest.

  • 1. Roy is extreme and it’s normal to have extreme people in all societies. There is no need to be overly concerned with them, but we shouldn’t ignore their points.
    2. You are not very balanced with facts as well.
    2.1 Ford is USA
    2.2 Medical bills are not subsidizes so much, there must be a medisave or medishield component hence its so cheap. Medisave is your own cash and medishield is insurance and not a Singaporean phenomenon.
    2.3 Many Germanic and Scandinavia countries also are fiscal prudent and it’s not a binary or unique to Singapore.
    3 Singapore is expensive low tax or not. Look at all indicators compiled globally by international organization OR if you don’t believe ask anecdotally people who lived in European countries where is more expensive in terms of purchase parity.

  • From what I know, it is not a criminal offence to:

    a] spew vulgarities and profanities on WWW;

    b] criticise anyone, whatever the status or position whether dead or alive.

    But it is a criminal offence to:

    a] defame, slander, and to spew aspersion, diatribe that is derogatory to degrade a person’s reputation. [inviting possible private legal suit by the person].

    b] criticise and belittle a religious belief to cause unease and unhappiness to the believers,

    c] provoke racial hatred.

    d] criticise a language to cause friction for a particular race or among the races.

  • Yes Roy Ngerng is making selective use of information, but guess what so are you.

    To equalize between Singapore and all those countries with high taxes, you have to consider CPF contributions as if they are taxes. Why? Because while we supposedly own our money in CPF, the citizens of those high tax countries owned a set of social entitlements from their government, i.e. almost free healthcare, state pension, benefits for unemployment, disabilities, long term illness. Besides, can’t see them depleting their social entitlements like Singaporeans have depleted their CPF from housing.

    Land scarcity – let me ask you a very simple question. In fact 2 questions. Today we have a population of 5.4m

    will land be scarce if we did not have such a FT influx and the population is 4m instead?

    now if land is scarce at today’s 5.4m, then how come land is not scarce at 6.9m which is what the govt is planning.

    Bottomline: land scarcity is a relative not an absolute concept. Sticking head in sand won’t help.

  • Well said, I have been studying (higher education) in the UK for the past 9 months. These are some observations. My conclusions: Mr Roy, pls do some homework.

    1.My UK classmates lamented paying a tax of 50% (that is the maximum bracket, compared to Singapore’s 20%).

    2. The UK govt is running a serious budget deficit. The national debt is >100% GDP and still growing. In short, the financial status of the countries is in ruins. So is the rest of Europe.

    3. You don’t exactly get very cheap housing. Cheaper than Singapore yes. But they are located so far away that basis amenities are at least a 30 mins drive. Unless you stay in a city like London, where housing is MORE expensive than SG. A shoe box unit cost SGD1.5million perhaps.

    4. Basic amenities we take for granted. Fancy a swim – prepares to drive 45mins and pay SGD$15 per pax. A haircut – SGD$20 at a local barber standard. Macdonalds – SGD$18 per set meal. So Mr Roy, it is much more expensive to live here, unless you eat cheap Broccolis everyday.

    5. The UK has a free healthcare system, referred as the NHS. It is so generous that it provide free healthcare to anybody residing in the UK, even for short term stayers like us. BUT, there is serious issues with it, despite the government pumping in about half of governmental spending into it. The most serious problem? The people has no “freedom” at all. Want to get a specific blood test done, sorry it can’t be done as long as the GP says no. My wife has thyroid and we are considering to conceive a second child. It is absolutely critical to control her thyroid level to ensure the normal development of the baby. We requested to conduct a specific blood test, just like the ones we did in Singapore. The answer: no, sorry we don’t it here, it is not part of a system. Want to go private, sure, a consultation costs SGD$400, a blood test SGD$600. $1000 for a blood test that would cost me $100+ in Singapore. Think about it.

    Don’t get me wrong, the country is beautiful and has a high degree of culture. But as the author said, they are big and they have long history. Coming here will make you appreciate SG, despite its many short coming. Perhaps Mr Roy should spend some of the money “donated” to see the world.

  • Dear author,
    Could you correct these grammatical errors?

    CPF can be withdrawn by you (subject to strict rules). Taxes CANNOT.

    CPF will be returned to your family in cash when you die. Taxes WILL NOT.

    When stated in this manner however, one does wonder whether taxes and CPF have the same functions in societies. Also, it is not like Singaporeans do not pay taxes.
    BTW in saying that, I’m not for or against Roy, or for or against Singapore. It takes all sorts to make a world.

  • Be it CPF is a tax system or not. Be it Singapore has a low tax rate a not. It is important? To me it is just a name given to ask money from the public to run the country. One has to consider Singapore has lots of indirect tax too.

    To add on, I also see all the compulsory government insurance scheme is another form of tax; to enjoy medical care which the west gives to their citizen base on high progressive tax.

    Let’s consider all form of money payable to government are consider tax.(I.e. from indirect tax such as COE that goes into food price, GST, Insurance scheme which is more of a regressive tax to Income Taxes which is more of a progressive tax, emm well CPF as well since money is constantly reminding to be held up by the government for a life time) All add up may just form a significant amount of tax payable. If we consider all of those as taxes, are we paying as much as those in the West?

    Assuming all the services in exchange for the taxes paid is the same and given all the taxes collected to be the same in Singapore and the West, are we enjoying the same level of services?

    Do the middle income and low income individual pay a lower or higher amount of tax as compared to the people of the same category in the west? I have no idea, do you?
    Perhaps, the ever falling of the consumption rates may tell us something about our income vs inflation vs CPF.

    Given a low tax, and lots of indirect taxes(which I see as regressive taxes),high inflation without equal increment in wages to certain segment of our population to net of the inflationary effect, the constant threatening and reminding citizen that CPF monies may be hold up forever through increasing minimum sum every year and even to the extent of CPF money is in fact not the citizens’ money, it is no surprise about our fall consumption rates.

    We have to save more, thinking CPF monies may one day officially not ours (citizens). For the eyes of the citizen only, is such a discomfort. We cannot trust someone who constantly threaten of what seems to be ours but in-fact may not be.

    Wage increment should offset inflation. Wage may increase further should there be productivity. It strange when one say productivity must increase to compensate inflationary effect.

    While raising productivity is the work of technology, it seems to be a work of the people. Working in an extended hours for a little more pay every month. With every other day seeing foreigners competing with skills, and worse of all, the cheapness of their work done as a good form trade for money for the longer and even longest hours put in.

    Please give the people especially those with family in Singapore a break, especially the ones on CPF.
    By the way, Singapore land don’t seem to be scarce. We can accommodate a number that is 2 times our current size. i.e 10 Million. Build even more expensive and smaller homes?

    In the end, what’s the purpose of comparing to the west when there is no complete matching detail in this article or even Roy’s article seem to meet the purpose? Roy’s article seems more informative then this article even though I am not sure how accurate is his article.
    Perhaps Singapore’s consumption rate will give us a better idea.

    While is very true that “no one owes us a living” in Singapore. It is also true that considering all the cost of living and to raise family in Singapore, one that embrace this term should be respected for and paid at least a minimum living wage to be fair.

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