The new sandwich

While we are seeing the fading away of the old sandwich class, it is surprising to see the emergence of a new sandwich class. Is this new sandwich necessary? The old sandwich came from a period of adject poverty, when educational level was low and many were caught in the low income trap, from parents to children. The short job cycle and the formula of retiring at 55, which was necessary in many hard labour jobs, resulted in many with little savings. The children would have to continue to provide for the old folks and their own children. Today, has the picture changed? Many with families are likely to own a flat, have some CPF savings and with children that are having bigger income. Relatively the people today are much well off except for the dysfunctional families, the remnants of the illiterate and ignorant generations and the squanderers. The problem is or should not be pervasive. Why the need to legislate laws today to create another sandwich class by compulsion? What went wrong? One possibility is the breakdown of the family and family values. The children do not see it their responsibility to look after their aged parents. Of course this is only a generalisation and may not affect too many. Then there is this ‘heart willing, pocket not willing’ situation when the cost of living has made caring and looking after a small family that much more costly financially. And to pay for and look after children and parents simultaneously is not an easy option for many. Law or no law, if the pocket is empty, there is not much that can be done. Isn’t it an irony that in today’s context, with so many levels of protection and provision, the oldies should be happily retired without having to be a burden to children and society. What causes this failure to see our olds retiring to the sunset amply provided? Or retiring to the sunset is a fleeting dream? How many will turn into sour sandwiches, unable to look after their own families and legally bounded to look after their parents? I think if this is becoming such a problem, we have failed as a society to give the people a better life. Too much money and resources are wasted in maintaining a costly lifestyle and with little left to look after parents. Can we then blame the new sandwiches for failing to be filial or were they the victims of circumstances that were promoted as the good life?


Wally Buffet said...

Take a leaf from how Hong Kongers prepare themselves for retirement without expecting much help from their children.

They struggle like mad when they are young to lay the groundwork for an eventual blissful sunset period.

No expectations of a handout, no expectations of a nanny taking care of every need, no perpetual whining.

You want it? Go get it!

j said...

agree with above comment. people should rely on themselves to pay for their retirement fund. nobody should be responsible for you but yourself.

redbean said...

hi j, welcome to the blog.

singaporeans would be quite comfortable with their cpf savings if they don't have to pay for so many things that are designed to be affordable to them. now, with the high cost of living, no matter how much they save, it will be chasing the dog's tail, never able to catch up.

the pyramid will get sharper and sharper and the base narrower. it will topple one day.

Anonymous said...

"No expectations of a handout, no expectations of a nanny taking care of every need, no perpetual whining."

Then stop asking the farting gov to keep increasing taxing (eg GST) and increasing the ceilings for CPF minisum sum and special account the citizens to no end that they claimed "for your own good" and to take care of you.

When you have a government that keep saying that they taking money from you claiming that to increase assistance for you, then why you the same people keep whining that it is entirely the citizens's problem ?

"No expectations of a handout, "
Use some common sense, would you ? Did you not note that handout isn't free to you because it is your own money in first place, and it come at expense of your CPF's minium sum and special account ? Why do you think this sum increase from $5000 to $10000 from time to time ?

"Whining" ? If you live in other democratic country, you take action by protesting to make the point. In Singapore, they make protest illegal and even call reporters to screen those whiner to increase intimidation. Don't believe ? Just attend the next Hong Lim Park protest.

Anonymous said...


You seem to me to be about the only one who is able to stay with Singaporeans in their plights.

If only there are more of You around.

Anonymous said...

the only kingdom that survives will be a kingdom that says...blessed are the poor.

but alas, they say...blessed are the rich.

redbean said...

i want to be rich also.

Wally Buffet said...


You are already rich!

Rich with good health.

Rich with a gift for writing.

Rich with a gift for creative photography expression.

Rich with the attributes such as thriftiness to make a man happy.

How "Rich" do you wannabe?

Although I stay in a 3 room HDB, my greatest richness is being HAPPY!

redbean said...

you are right willy, we are all rich and blessed in our own ways. my greatest blessing are my children and grandchildren. All healthy and normal.

Wally Buffet said...

Me too. Mine are healthy, smart and successful.

So you can imagine that although I can be considered one of Singapore's underprivileged, I have richness that money cannot buy.

In fact, come to think of it. It takes very little to get through the day. About $15 is what me and my missus spend.

Anonymous said...

poor here does not mean ...poverty or lack.
poor here means it shins the ways of the rich who exploits the weak in society for capital gain
the rich engages in a political game of inequality to enslave the masses to a life of meaningless production and consumption

however, the poor operates from a different political perspective.

it is the politics of the poor that will level or contain the ravages of unending complication and justification of the ruling wealthy class.

the dilution of power and the simplicity of fools are the keys to heaven on earth.

redbean said...

in the natural course of human history, the rich and powerful will keep on exploiting the poor and themselves getting richer on the folly of the poor. but it will break down eventually when the buay tahan state is rich and all hell break lose. then we will see a regime change and a new story begins.

we are in a better state when the rich do not think, and truly believe, that they are not exploiting the poor, and the poor are oblivious of being exploited and very happy about their state of affair.

this state of affair can only happen in paradise. and it will go on and on until either party wakes up and realises something is not right. otherwise we will go on existing happily ever after.

Anonymous said...

no need to wait till paradise however, armageddon will come first though

anyway, the politics of the poor builds on the poor

the politics of the rich builds on the rich

see the difference?

Wally Buffet said...

Wa vely cheem leh. Cannot understand what is being discussed.

How can I be exploited even though I am poor if I:

1. Don't have to work.
2. Have three square meals a day.
3. Can pitch my tent to enjoy the wonderful scenery.
4. Can surf the net free on Wireless @SG.
5. Can have world class medical care at nominal costs.
6. Can go wherever I please.
7. Can do whatever I like.(lawfully of course).
8. Can sleep peacefully at night as security is good and Mr. Selamat is safely in the hands of our good and friendly neighbour.

My personal philosophy is to leave the big problems to the big boys who are intellectually endowed to tackle the herculean matters of state. We just enjoy lah!

Will anon kindly explain to a simpleton like me?


Anonymous said...

How come I feel that the big problems are always created by the Big Boys ???

redbean said...

hi wally, actually your life could have been better. today ST did a massive job to interview the one roomers. one resident said, 'Going out is very expensive, taking the bus is a waste of money, I rather stay at home and watch TV.'

this statement tells the plight of the poor, that getting around is so costly that they rather not go out. and their home, 1 rm rental flat, is not a palace to begin with.

Wally Buffet said...

Hi Redbean,

Me and the Missus were thinking that it might be a good idea to sell our 3 room HDB and move into one of those rental flats. The profit from our little investment can be ploughed back into our CPF accounts to leave it to our children when we have to go on the trip to the parallel universe on the starship "Enterprise".

What's your advice?

Anonymous said...

sg success cannot be duplicate elsewhere..especially in a larger continent.

what u enjoy is illusionary

the damages done is in the psyche and soul of the people.

this is a dessert with ice kachang and goreng pisang

if u are happy with goreng pisang, eat it now and enjoy it before more will become goreng goreng lol

Anonymous said...

generally,there are two kinds of people who draw differing conclusion when they read about the poor in jalan kukoh.

one group thinks....hope gahmen build more one room flat so they can cash out of their bigger homes and retire and enjoy paradise

the other group remembers what the social worker said...we have the living dead there and now, we have idiots who want a piece of what the living dead has been reduced to.

redbean said...

hi wally buffett, me giving advice to wally buffett : )

seriously, anonymous has answered your questions. Jln kukoh is a living example of what living hell is. you want to go that way if you have a choice? the residents there are temporary, or transient and would want to move out at the first opportunity. you want to join them at your free will?

many singaporeans think that they have a quarter million or half million dollar property to downgrade and cash out. think of the alternatives and consequences.

cash out and get out to a cheaper country may be a better way, provided the money can last. otherwise a roof is still a roof, 250K or 500k. that's all you have to live in peace.

Anonymous said...

wally maybe delighted to hear that the government is building more rental flats

however, some maybe wondering..why is the government building more of these rental flats and how many more?

Wally Buffet said...

There are also three room flats in Jalan Kukoh which is situated at the top of York Hill. Going to the top, you can have a panoramic view of the city, looking down to where the elites live and party which is Mohamed Sultan Road, the Clark Quay area (where you took that header photo Redbean). This place has been described as a living hell but that is mainly because the design of the one room rental flats with a corridor running through the middle is definitely not an award winning design. There are many one room rental flats dispersed around the island where the design is similar to three room tenancy leased flats. The ambience is better and it certainly is no living hell.

Anonymous said...

chicken duck talk. and u wonder what is wrong with sg...haha

Anonymous said...

haha..the joker thinks future rental flats will...ermm...look down on the elites. HAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

this country leaders are good at..."dressing up" society.

you see, they have the benefit of learning from history not to repeat the follies of old empires

but an empire is still an empire no matter how you "dress it"

putting "branded clothes" on the poor makes good summary in your annual report

but is that how the poor wants to be treated?

or worse, are we creating more "poor" people?

Anonymous said...

so wally...how much you wanna sell your three room?

and btw, how much is your soul?

redbean said...

we can have a campaign to promote living in 2 and 3 rm flats as a classy thing. then more will want to down grade in style.

have some photos of celebrities enjoying the ambience of jalan kukoh, sipping tea and reading the Peak magazine in a relaxing sunday morning, on a bench in jalan kukoh.

Anonymous said...

Jln Kukoh is one great place to asses the performance of our government for the near five decades.

Please do give your ratings.

Anonymous said...

better still, have our ministers downgrade to jalan kukoo.

they can give away their amassed wealth for...erm...charity.


Anonymous said...

the day they give to charity is the day they wear..... black :)

Anonymous said...

anyone noticed one of our local architect has been tasked upon by india's gahmen to design a self contained village for their poor?

it was reported, stand to be corrected, it takes only six months to build.

i looked at the sketch of the self contained village

now, this guy may have something going there. a potential world changing model :)