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:
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CPF can be withdrawn by you (subject to strict rules).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.
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:
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.
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).
(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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