Budget 2016 Reaction: 99 Problems, And A Solution Ain’t One of Them

A colloquial take on the recent Budget exchange.

Screenshot 2016-04-13 14.27.11

I stumbled upon this Budget 2016 reaction in a radio interview recently, and I couldn’t resist paraphrasing it in Singlish. Firstly, because I miss paraphrasing GE 2015 rally hijinks in Singlish and the accompanying lolz. Secondly, because this is the most lor sor example I have seen of a complain king who lacks any real solutions apart from “Er, wait till we get to DEFCON 5, lor.” I understand that the interview was a Budget 2016 reaction and not a policy paper, but “wait until shit gets real” is not a solution, you know?

Note to kukubirds who like to simisai also complain: I have stuck to the original meaning as accurately as I can when paraphrasing in Singlish. I am not claiming that the Singlish edition was what happened in the interview. Don’t say I anyhowly say they say, hor. (Anyhowly say-ception!)


*Singlish translations in BLUE ah.

Voyage Research’s CEO Roger Tan’s Budget 2016 Reaction: Singlish Edition

(Original interview aired on 938 Live, 8 April, 6.50 am)


Bharati: “Now let’s look at Singapore specifically now in terms of our economic situation.  We just heard from Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang saying that he is confident that Singapore will be able to address economic challenges, we have a strong foundation. To what extent would you agree, Roger?”

Translation: Eh, Minister Lim Hng Kiang just now say Singapore’s economy is very huat. What you think ah, bro? Our economy is damn cannot make it or si beh steady in the future ah?

Roger:  I think it’s good to make motherhood statement like this and make everybody and every Singaporean feel good, but the fact is that in terms of labour or job prospects, higher pay, PMET jobs, the banks are already laying off and the financial sector, which to a certain extent, Singapore is dependent on more than 50 or 60 per cent of the GDP now, given we are service industry is not really doing well. Manufacturing, on the other hand, is even worse and the fact that our land cost has quadrupled over the last 10 to 15 years, is not helping cost, neither it’s our inability to increase our manpower, thereby reduce our overall manpower cost.

I think all of these are contributing to a very weak Singapore, not just in the last few years, but probably even in the next few years.  So unless the Minister is able to give us concrete proof of what he said, concrete forecast on what is going to happen ahead, I think these are very nice motherlyhood statements to just calm us all down and I think that’s all it does.”

Translation: Har, he say until liddat, make everyone feel damn steady but acherly hor, is not so steady one. You PMET, you in banking, then your job prospect is very gua gua gua already. Some more got layoff here layoff there in the financial sector. Then got 50–60% GDP in financial sector already liao. Service industry also damn cannot make it. Then manufacturing … wah lau eh, that one lagi worse. Land so expensive some more, then we cannot reduce manpower cost, cannot get more manpower … then how?

I tell you ah, liddat Singapore become damn jialat. Last few years already jialat, now next few years also jialat. I tell you hor, the Minister anyhowly say we steady so we feel shiok already, then we never kao pei kao bu.


Bharati: Of course, there were a lot of budget measures announced, you don’t think those would help?”

Translation:: Har? But the Budget got how many measures already, liddat also the economy cannot steady ah?

Roger: “I think the Budget is a joke hidden behind conservatism.  There’s nothing much the Budget is actually helping.  Ultimately, in the short run, there is even no stimulus to stimulate the economy in the short run.  I think the Budget was for the long run, but like Keynes say, in the long run we are all dead.”

Translation: Wah piang eh, the Budget is damn anyhowly lah. Then they tai chi the anyhowlyness. Har? How they tai chi? Conservatism, lor. No need to wait long time, can see got nothing to make the economy more happening. I thought the Budget is acherly for the future of Singapore but I think the future is like the Keynes fella say, all mati already.

Bharati: Just to put this in context, Minister Lim talked about the normalisation of the loose monetary policy that key developed economies have adopted, how this will affect financial markets.  China has been increasingly in-sourcing goods and services required to produce its manufacturing output, rather than importing them. He did say that countries like Singapore, which trade with China will be affected and have to find new growth niches in order to remain relevant, but we also heard from MTI Minister in charge of Industry S Iswaran talking about what the government will invest in, in terms of advanced manufacturing technologies, as such as additive manufacturing and robotics, and you did mention manufacturing earlier, Roger. What do you think of this plan?”

Translation: Er, gostan a bit ah, I need to double confirm chop stamp the context. Minister Lim got talk about the lembik monetary policy of other economically huat countries and how the financial markets will kena or not kena because of the lembikness. China now ownself make a lot of good and services for the manufacturing, not like last time import here import there. Then he say countries like Singapore who got trade with China will kena affected, then must find new lobang for growth already —if not then we really damn cannot make it already.

Then hor, MTI Minister Iswaran for All The Industry Things also say the gahmen invest in what thing, see what thing is good for manufacturing, make robot babies in the factories. I ask you ah, because you earlier got talk about manufacturing. This plan how? Want or donch want?

Roger:  “Well I think when it comes to industry and when it comes to manufacturing companies, toys are always nice to have and at the end like you said, the budget has put aside a lot of money to pay consultants for companies to help them pick money from government to buy toys. So unless and until these toys that they buy, also known robotics, do produce something and those things that they have produced are actually exported to make money, it will stay as a budget that will be spending money but not necessarily leading up to productivity and leading up to any GDP growth.

So I think I think there are methods at hand that we really, really need to address to and that is falling property prices.  The people are losing their jobs and these are signs that Singapore economy, at least in the short term, is going to face a lot of headwinds and we are already facing a lot of headwinds, and even after all these inflation that Singapore is facing is not really coming off and again you don’t want inflation to come off that much in the very short period because it leads to another problem.  So I think there is a lot of economic challenges due to strategic mistakes that have been put in over the last 10 to 15 years and these problems are now arising in Singapore.”

Translation: Hahaha! Robots very happening hor? You want robot toy, I also want, everybody also want. But the Gahmen put so much money for the consultant to buy the robot toy for companies, then the companies use the Gahmen money to buy the robot toys some more.

(Note: that sentence in the original interview made me want to jab a pencil into my eye. Because brain death is better than having to read that sentence. Again. And. Again.)

So if the robot toy got make things that are not kukubird useless things, and got people want to buy the things the robot toy make hor, then okay lor. But if not, then the robot never give us productivity, never helpch the GDP growth, then spend the money for what?

Acherly I think we got problems to aim already. Got people lose jobs, all these things mean Singapore’s economy got 99 problems one. Even the inflation never really siam but also hor, you donch want the inflation to completely siam, later got more problem. So I think got many things maybe will make our economy damn jialat, because the last 10 to 15 years, our strategy damn bobo.  Then now gua gua gua lor.

Bharati:  “You have talked a lot about the problems, any solutions?”

Translation:: Eh bro you kao pei kao bu about this a lot already, you got solution to make Singapore’s economy si beh steady anot?

Roger:  “I guess the solution is now that we have got to wait for something to happen, whether it is the economy crash or a market crash because without a crash, there’s no reason for any government, or any central bank, to come in and say let’s do something … (indistinct) … governments are very reactive and not proactive.  So as far as they can, if they cannot react, they would have to tell you that everything is fine and they are telling us that everything is fine.”

Translation: Er, I think we relak one corner, wait for the next time the economy or the market crash. Got no crash, got no Gahmen action. They never ownself proactive, got react only. They cannot ownself proactive, so they lan lan must tell us everything damn steady. That’s why they tell us everything steady lor.


Clearly, this guy has not watched Battlestar Galactica, otherwise he would know: robots are not toys, they are our future overlords/ slightly creepy BFFs. They are also shockingly useful when your spaceship has a virus. Just kidding! (Not really.)

**This article was contributed by Samantha De Silva. Click here for more of her opinions.

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