Not just economic growth
People are expecting a miracle speech coming out of Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally. It is like waiting for a sermon by one of the miracle healer in the National Stadium, where the sick and woes of human suffering will be lifted away into thin air. Unfortunately a National Day rally is likely to be more down to earth. And if problems and issues are raised, if they can be solved, the better, if not, they will be simply explained away. The two key issues of immigrants and housing prices are expected to top the list of concerns. Both are problems of economic growth and economic data. Looks good on paper, but they come with intrinsic and long lasting repercussions if other factors are not carefully looked into. Not economic growth alone, for the superlative data of growth can be deceiving, in the sense that the growth came from where and how and how it benefits the society and people in general. We are building a country and with real people, not running a casino where the winners take all and the losers lose all. Take housing for example. It seems like a happy problem. Then why the angst and pain and complaints? Maybe they are inconsequential and can be conveniently ignored. Maybe not. Over the years many policies have changed, from the policies of building flats, from definition of demand and supply, the definition of affordability, the eligibility criteria, the private property owners allowed to buy another HDB flat, the uses of HDB flats for subletting and speculation, market pricing etc etc. All these have contributed to the mess that the affected people are complaining. This could be an issue that could swing votes in the general elections. Despite all the big changes, there are some that are seen as fundamental and unchangeable. The eligibility of singles, the income ceilings, the building of smaller flats. There is still this blinkered mindset that HDB prices are affordable which are obviously not. The income level of the lower segment of society lagged far behind the price inflation of HDB flats. They can only keep downgrading and lower their expectation, but up to a point. The income ceiling is bull. The fact that many are still able to buy higher priced flats is because they were upgrading and had a base to spring from. The young couples buying their first flats, even with a $10k income, will be hard pressed to put down that huge deposit and COV. At best it will clean up their savings. Going to the private sector is jumping from a frying pan into the deep blue sea. Same as the singles that are crying for a decent place to stay without bursting their bank accounts. And every day they failed to get their flats, their worries get worst as the prices keep on escalating. While these citizens are grappling with their plight against unthinking robots replying that they should lower their expectations and policies cannot be changed or are good, the foreigners are happily swarming into the market to pick up bargains to be sold later to the locals that missed the boat, at a quick profit. While we bent all over to welcome and accommodate the new citizens, should not the govt think that they need to take care of the citizens first and foremost, especially when housing is a critical factor in their lives? Would Hsien Loong come out with earth shattering changes in govt policies like LKY did to retirement age? Would Hsien Loong take the casino road and say old ways that are irrelevant must give way to the new? Or would he just explain the current problems faced by the people as something that they must lived with, market forces, nothing can be done, or pack up and go somewhere? Is there anything new in the coming National Day Speech or more of the same? Will there be any sacred cows to be slaughtered to make way for a better tomorrow? Or the premises of the sacred cows are still relevant and necessary, and not sacred bulls that must be kept at all costs?