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8/28/2010

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?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like to say to my Dear Redbean that me must be one of the loyal follower of your blogs, maybe just second or third to those infront of me.

Dare I also say that You have spoken the truth and nothing but the truth since me started reading and commenting in My Singapore News. I was not expecting such a determined man repeating and trying so hard to drum some senses into the people running the State.

Now, me realizes that Redbean will outlast me in our interactions because I know for sure that his efforts in the past and those that can be expected will all be wasted.

Why so ?

The Answer is obvious; Singaporeans can witness for themselves, have any of the social political bloggings in SIN ever resulted in the Rulers accepting or responding positively ? Or have they even mentioned any for having presented some valueable suggestions good for policy makings ? Not that I knew of, on the contrary, every Singaporean knows the next moment one or more Leaders unfailingly came out with all kinds of condescending descriptions of the people been daft, complacent, lazy and whatever they could conjure.

Others would offer all kinds of excuses that their ideas were the best and most workable.

The Leaders that were railed by the Bloggers and Forum Writers will be the ones that the people will have to see and hear most from. It is clear that they want to spike the people to tell into their faces that there is nothing the people can do and will have to ultimately be cowed into submission. Is this not the fate of the people ?

Redbean my Fren, I respect your righteousness and your patriotism. HOWEVER, I like to say to You:-

THIS IS THE WRONG PLACE TO PLACE YOUR LOYALTY.

patriot

Anonymous said...

Haha, I share your sentiments, Patriot.

But, on the other hand, remembering that little quote from Pastor Martin Niemoller, if no one speaks out from the beginning (not that we are at the beginning, we are probably now in the last throes), there will be no one left to speak out eventually.

As someone said, Singaporeans have only a small window left, one or two elections more probably, to do something and after that, no chances even to contemplate doing anything.

There is really more than meets the eye about the massive inflow of foreigners who are potential new citizens. Economic growth is always the official reason for the influx.

Behind that, the PAP knows that Singaporeans are getting more difficult to convince, with complaints getting louder and louder, cyberspace providing more and more channels for expressing their grievances, and most of all their margin of victory in elections getting thinner and thinner.

The solution lies in baptizing new citizens and counting on these new citizens to vote for them (and the perception is that these are invariably PAP supporters), thereby diluting the opposition votes.

But right now they are probably just testing and experimenting, because getting Taiwanese, Indians, Hong Kongers, Filipinos and Chinese to become new citizens can be a double-edged sword. These people are unlike native Singaporeans, and will fight tooth and nail for their every right.

That is the trade off that the PAP will have to take to hang on to power.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon;

You are absolutely right, ultimately all the minted citizens will one day get rid of the all-local rulers. But this does not worry me. Me am inclined and this has been in my mind for many years, that by then, the Present Rulers would have left this place with all their wealths.

The remaining sinkapooreans who make up the majority will be left behind to serve new masters that originate from alien nations just recently.

We can be very very sure that those that leave will not even take a glance at those that they once governed. It may not happen during my time or that of Redbean and Wally cos, we are into the twilight zone, however, it is always good to let our offsprings be prepared for an outcome that many of us share.

And if indeed we have to be second class going into third class citizens, why do we need to blindly put our loyalty to rulers who not only do not appreciate, but screwed us whenever they liked ??

See and hear the ways they called us ?? If they are not out to spike and belittle their citizens, what were those words meant to be ? Educate ?

patriot

Matilah_Singapura said...

At MAS website they state that the MAS the role of MAS policies is to promote non inflationary economic growth...i.e. growth from advances in tech, more efficient systems, the retention of profits, keeping debt as low as possible...all those financial philosophies and 'common sense' that our grandparents observed and taught our parents.

However ever sine MAS became a full-fledged central bank instead of a small-time offshoot of the treasury, inflation is S'pore is very real.

MAS has been debasing the SGD, the govt has taken on more debt -- what the fuck? S'pore govt used to be very fiscally conservative, and the tide has definitely changed.

Over time MAS has adopted the really bad philosophies of the US Fed.

Ask yourself: how much is a kopi susu at the kopi tiam? How much was it 2 or 3 years ago?

INFLATIONARY growth benefits the bankers, the big corps and the state. The rest of the people: they get fucked as their purchase power diminishes and their paypacket stays stagnant.

Other "bonuses": Inflationary growth looks great on paper -- it boosts the govt's reputation as a great "economic manager".

Look at S'pores sovereign debt. It is nearly 120% of GDP.

Sooner or later (usually later) someone has to pay that debt.

Guess who?