5 Major Facts about Singapore that every Singaporean should understand
Lately there has been an ongoing trend of Singaporeans lashing out at the government, voicing out unhappiness and dissatisfaction. We saw a article of how we are ranked in the top most expensive cities, we had Roy Ngerng causing a huge stir about the CPF system, we had photo comparisons of what a 3-room flat in Bishan can be like a bungalow in Pennsylvania. Many people are saying that our ministers are getting paid too high and there is a large widening gap between the rich and the poor.
To make things worse, the recent boom in foreigners has caused upset amongst Singaporeans, citing that “Singapore has less Singaporeans than foreigners”. We love comparing to successful first-world countries. “Oh, look at how great Germany is doing. Look at how wonderful it is to live in the Scandinavian countries. It will be so much better to migrate to the UK or Australia”. What I can tell you is that if you are someone who follows world news, global economics and politics closely, you will realize that every country has their own problems as well.
1) Population Control A.K.A. “Why are there so many foreigners in Singapore?”
No, Singapore is NOT the only country that is facing an immigration issue. The United Kingdoms, Germany, Australia, United States of America, Canada is also facing the same issue. Ironically, these are the countries that Singaporeans want to migrate to because they believe they can enjoy a better lifestyle there. Before you start to tell everyone about your dreams to migrate, have you considered that when you ‘migrate’ to a foreign country, you automatically become one of those “foreign immigrants” which Singaporeans are so upset about?
Here is the hypocrisy when Singaporeans point out they are not happy that so many foreigners are overtaking Singapore, and Singaporeans say they want to migrate to other countries, and eventually they end up being a foreigner in a different land. And this is exactly how our first-world counterparts feel. People in Europe and the U.S. are complaining that there are so many Asians flowing into their country. Their own local populace is also crying out that there are too many people coming into their country.
And this is why we must look into the reason on why immigration happens. People immigrate in hopes of finding a better lifestyle than staying in their home ground. Countries allow immigrants to come in, if they can provide the countries with benefits. Why has Singapore become a hotspot for immigrants?
Let me introduce to you jobs which pay about $1,600-$1,800 a month, to do cleaning services, waitressing, laundry, bus operators, cashiering, clerk assistants or construction labor. Too many proud, and ‘elitist’ mindset Singaporean graduates want the easy life and cannot handle hardship.
If every Singaporean refuses to do blue-collar jobs, who will do it? Who will be the ones who keeps our streets clean, construct awe-inspiring buildings like the Esplanade, Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, operate our MRT and bus services, serve our food at restaurants, maintain proper roads and infrastructure?
The governments and employers have no choice, they need to open up the job offer to anyone outside our country, who are hungry for jobs and don’t mind taking up the offer. And yet certain, bad-mouthing Singaporeans still complain that they get bad service from foreign workers. The notion here is, “If you think you can do a better job than them, go ahead and do it instead of complaining”
2) Treating the CPF system like it is a complete scam
A certain blogger Roy Ngerng has churned out many infographs about how menacing the CPF system is. While the the information cannot be proved to be true, what we can comprehend is very clear. Personal income tax in Singapore averages 6.5%. The top marginal income tax you could ever hit is 20%. CPF contribution is also another 20%. This may sound harsh to you, but please take note that in other ‘first-world’ countries, their personal income tax is higher than our maximum 20%. Some countries go up to 50%. That’s like an employer promising you a $4,000 salary but you only get to take home $2,000.
In Singapore, we may only take home 70-80% of our net supposed salary. However, 20% of that amount is still technically yours. Unlike other countries, our government has not completely removed that 20% away, never to be seen again. It is simply kept in a retirement account. And the bonus is that you can still use your CPF to pay off any medical bills, insurances and housing bills. The CPF money can still be used and planned to a certain extent.
I don’t know about you, but I much rather have 20% in a retirement account than have it completely taken away by ‘income tax’. No matter how bad you might assume CPF is, it’s already a system that is much better than 90% of other countries. If you blatantly say you just want to migrate to other countries “because there is no CPF there”, you are forgetting something called “2-3x higher income tax rate”
3) Complaining about Real Estate and Car Prices
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what our roads and highways will look like if the government makes car prices as low as that in the United States ($20,000 avg.) If we let every Singaporean have the privilege of owning a car, we will have infinite traffic jams, and even commuters who choose to take the bus will find themselves caught in these massive jams. Even motorcycle users will be affected. Air pollution indexes will raise higher than what our “forest fire hazes” have given us, and everyone will have to walk out with N95 masks everyday like the situation in Beijing. Is this what you want? Low car prices?
Flash news! Singapore is an island state that is no more than 42km wide. It is irrational to blame the government for having such a small island to work with. Since we are born into a small country state, maybe it’s time to accept the fact that not everyone can be allowed to own a car. The COE system is put in place so that people with higher status, eg. businessmen, professionals, managers, politicians who have a bigger need for cars can afford the $70,000 to travel around. The notion here is that if you can’t afford a car, simply settle for public transport. It only takes a maximum of 1 hour 15 minutes to travel from Tampines to Jurong via MRT.
Anyway, if you are a financially educated person, you will know that owning a car is having more liabilities, which is a bad financial decision especially if you are aiming to get rich ASAP. In a way, the government is discouraging people from buying cars, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Which brings me to my point of soaring real estate prices in Singapore.
We simply love comparing that our $400,000 3-room flat in Tampines/Bishan can afford us a freakin’ Villa (complete with poolside and balcony) in Thailand or Mexico. Let me emphasize again that we are a small island, so it is simply irrational to blame the government for having such a small island. We cannot build 1,000,000 Villas for the 1,000,000 households in Singapore for everyone to live in. There is not enough space. This is common sense that you cannot fit so many big houses into a small country.
Take a look at other countries who are suffering from land shortages. Real estate prices in Hong Kong are more expensive than Singapore’s. Japan’s real estate prices is almost similar. Everywhere in the world, real estate prices are generally rising due to demand and supply from people who need a house.
Another notion here is, if you cannot afford to buy a big house, settle for a small one, or just rent out a flat. And if you really want to live in a Villa with $400,000, please consider migrating because you won’t find anymore hope here.
4) Difficulty of finding employment, even with a degree
In agreement to point number 1, it’s really not the case that it’s hard to find employment in Singapore. It’s more about us Singaporeans being too elitist and picky for own good. What do most of us always say we want to be upon graduation?
“Oh, I wanna be a [insert industry here] manager” Well, captain obvious, if the entire population dreams of becoming a manager, who will become the employee? Think about that just for awhile.
Working as an employer’s assistance, I have posted out job listings calling for receptionists and customer service executives needed for SMEs. The pay given was $2,200, which includes potential commission if sales deals are closed over the counter. I specifically stated that the education level required was not necessary, as long as the applicant knows how to speak fluent English and their natural mother tongue. The catch? You must commit to a 6-day work week, 9 hours a day. This sounds like a grind, but,
I got 0 replies from Singaporeans, and 20 replies from foreigners.
You see, it’s not that it’s hard to get a job in Singapore. It’s just that if everyone wanted to become managers, there’s simply not enough. Once again, simple demand and supply concept. As for people who rant about how so many foreign workers are taking up managerial positions and commanding Singapore employees to do jobs instead, I believe that from a HR perspective, these ‘foreigners’ have already achieved a good reputation through networking and work experience.
Because honestly, if you are a Singaporean with a good track record of experience, and your foreign rival has no experience at all, any logical HR manager will hire you instead. Before we start jumping to conclusions, we need to take a step back and appreciate that some foreign workers indeed have the necessary years of experience required and have displayed good working habits in order to get the promotion to a managerial role.
Trust me, if you set up your own business one day, and get a chance to be your own boss, you would also choose your employees based on their work attitude, personality, and years of experience. Nationality is a very weak subject in the world of employment.
5) No explanation needed
Our government has transformed Singapore from 3rd-world kampung island to 1st-world global recognized state in a matter of 40 odd years. If you can’t even appreciate this fact, it’s time to do some self-reflection of whether you can do a better job in their shoes, if we reset time to 1965.
Jackie Loh Writer The Influencer Media
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