Problems facing Singapore – Personal View

We would be proud that Singapore had progressed economically over the 50 years of independence. Singapore Per Capita GDP jumped from S$1,310 in year 1960 to S$71,318 last year. Between 1960 and year 2000 (a span of 40 years), per capita GDP growth was $1,000 per year. Per capita GDP growth started to jump $2,000 per year from year 2000 to year 2014 (a span of just 14 years). This was very impressive.

Per capita GDP at current market price:

Year Per capita GDP (S$) Growth per year
1960 1,310
2000 41,018 About $1,000 per year
2014 71,318 About $2,000 per year

Source: DOS, Singapore

But Singaporeans still feel that Cost of Living is still a main concern. 74% of survey respondents felt that way, based on the Blackbox Research published in TODAY, 15 August 2015. Singaporeans do not feel rich enough to afford rising cost of living.

Root of Problem
To live in Singapore, essential costs of living include housing, food, clothing, public transport and health care. All these have risen over past 15 years (after the Asian Financial Crisis). It takes double income family to pay for these high costs. (Husband and wife works.)

With income disparity (rich and poor divide), envy arises in the not so rich family. This creates competitive environment in the work places and in the schools. Competition starts even for children who are still very young. A good education and good academic scores open pathways to doing well in lives.

Not feeling Rich
So we thought that we have reached developed country status and therefore, we should feel well-off. Is this the case? Whenever I moved around my neighbourhood during peak evening hours, I faced elderly people selling tissue papers, stretching their hands for some money; some disabled people sitting down at busy thoroughfares selling tissue papers, etc. I see food courts/hawker centres employ elderly people to clear and clean tables. Shouldn’t they enjoy their later years in relative comfort instead of still working? Have these people fell through the cracks without sufficient money from the various governmental financial aids and schemes? Could more be done reaching out to these people?

If I can stop the time machine, what would I hope to see changes to the society in order to change the trajectory away from what faced currently?

Family as a nucleus and community way of support
In the past, family members support each other in time of needs. Brothers and sisters look after their parents in their golden years. Beyond this family nucleus, the community comes together to support members in need in the community. I hope to see this community spirit comes back.

For better off individuals, they can volunteer to help the disadvantaged or under-privileged. This is one way of paying back for a society that provides the environment for them to do well in the society.

Government to keep costs down
I wish the government could do what it takes to keep costs down for essential items. These include housing, food, clothing, public transport and health care. This will bring down the cost of living overall for everyone (whether rich or poor). By so doing, no one should feel stressed to live in Singapore and trying to keep up with rising cost of living.

Generosity, goodwill and morals
At the end of day, a person with a good heart and strong moral values is good for the society. Generosity, goodwill and morals underpin our support for our families and the community. It is hoped that we help each other first as the first line of support before we get used to turning to the government for hand-outs every time we needed money.

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