THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Observation on S’pore after returning from Australia

Posted by temasektimes on August 29, 2012

After coming back from Australia, I look at Singapore and the policies of the government and with PM’s speech about searching for the Singapore soul, I can’t help but wonder how the government is going to find this Singapore identity when the policies that it puts in force are all about making money.

They let in FT’s so that companies can hire on the cheap and at Singaporean’s expense and so government can collect more tax revenue. They say they help the poor/elderly/needy but how much of it does the government really give out? Is it loose change compared to the billions of dollars stored up in our country’s coffers? Then the government tells the world that we have the world’s highest GDP per capita. But what about its citizens? Are Singaporeans really that well off as what these statistical figures show them to be?

Compared to Australia, the education system is such that if a student don’t excel academically, he or she can always learn other trades and be equally respected in society. The garbage collector walks in public in his dirt-streaked uniform (but not smelly of course) with as much pride as the white collar worker sitting at the next table to him at Starbucks. Workers are not allowed to work overtime so as to encourage its citizens to lead a balanced lifestyle.

Employees who are pregnant or take parental leave to care for their children can sue their employees if they feel they have been unfairly appraised or dismissed from their jobs, with the government’s tangible support and not just lip service. The government provides significant tax breaks to encourage people to start their own businesses, so that even if they fail, they don’t have to declare bankruptcy and risk being branded a failure for the rest of their lives.

People who cannot find jobs don’t have to starve as they receive welfare payouts provided they show proof that they have been actively looking for jobs. Australia has a high proportion of middle income families and their citizens do not have to fight tooth and nail for survival with FT’s let in by the government who are willing to work twice the duration for half the pay.

The government doesn’t tell their citizens to accept lower wages and work harder and smarter so that they can compete with these FT’s. Its citizens willingly reproduce because their lifestyle is much more balanced and they find time for rest and recreation. They find the time to say “hi” and “how are you”.

In Singapore, people have no time, no energy to raise kids, as they are so busy making money, afraid of failing and being left behind should they even take a short break for a breather.

Coming back from Australia, these are the things that I have learnt and observed. I think there is something really warped about the way the PAP runs the country. Or is this the only way Singapore can survive in this rapidly changing world?

*The above was first posted on Channel News Asia Forum

54 Responses to “Observation on S’pore after returning from Australia”

  1. Realist said

    How to compare Australia with Stinkapore ?
    Here we have the PAP and even the main Opp party WP is a quasi-PAP.
    Making money is the govt top priority as this will justify the ministers’ high paying salaries.
    Therefore having a balance work life here can never be an option but just a dream.

  2. loosechange said

    As a fellow Singaporean living in Australia, I concur.

  3. Singapuraboi said

    Bravo! Well said!

  4. Ann said

    Well said!

  5. Ron said

    I spent three months there recently and plan to go back again. Agree with such observations as I have siblings and their families there too. Australia is the Lucky Country and has somehow managed to take care of their citizens very well compared to many countries. Income tax and other taxes are high but do not affect the retired, low income or jobless very much.

    Spore is a pressure cooker and the rising resentment towards influx of foreigners is unhealthy. There is a struggle for space, to make ends meet. There is no social safety net and the government is not about to relax on that. The threat is that taxes must go up. But then if you are jobless there is no meaning in low income tax anyway.

    I can live cheaply in Australia too….. supermarket foodstuffs are affordable, can read the papers on Internet, make my own tea and cut down on unnecessary expenditure. The TV is much superior to Spore now….plenty of programmes. There are always plenty of parks, outdoor recreation spots. And for those living on the coast, the ocean scenery is outstanding with its surf and blue skies.

    • Kenneth said

      Are you saying you can’t live cheaply in Singapore? No internet in Singapore? Cannot make your own tea in Singapore? How is TV superior? Channel 9 7 and 10, SBS and ABC. Unless you use Foxtel or Austar, both just as hopeless.

      • J kwan said

        I agree with Kenneth. By the way, it’s not cheap to eat it on Australia, a plate of noodles minimum $10, so how is that live cheaply? And public transport is ridiculously expensive and sparse for those who don’t drive. At least thirty minutes for each bus

  6. johnson lim said

    haha this is a welfare state mind set. is welfare system really workable? all the policies they made has good intention in uk / aus , eventually people will start taking advantage of the system. A good example in UK please go to have a look in this link http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2012/aug/23/nhs-overseas-franchise-health-service. Totally rubbish? what singapore government had done is really good and healthy for the country.

    • iloveft said

      Hello good for country
      does that mean good for her people as well?
      here in SG. Pap is the country. But does it represent us?

    • S'porean with Aust PR said

      I prefer a welfare state anytime though I have to pay higher taxes now but I dun mind since I am still young and able.
      What pap govt did is only good for the rich and the elite.
      May be I am a loser for not being rich or elite but who care.

      • johnson lim said

        you got a chance to be a elite did you cherish. Frankly i admit i did not cherish when i can do well in school last time but no point looking back what we can do is excel what we currently or in the future.

      • S'porean with Aust PR said

        Not everyone can be an elite. Every time I buy toto I got a chance to strike it but did I cherish it?
        What I can excel now is to be better, faster and cheaper with so many FTs in my profession and industry now.

    • G said

      Hey, moron, there IS ‘welfare’ here ie. money given to people who put up appearances to get money they don’t deserve(in this case). It’s just reserved for those who need it least. Go figure.

    • enough said

      another pig straying , your place is in the pigsty, you do not deserved to be in this forum
      this forum is not for dirty pigs like you
      who like the pap robbed the masses to pay for your obscene salary
      your place is in the dirty stinky pigsty

  7. johnson lim said

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/21/nhs-brand-sold-overseas-hospitals

  8. johnson lim said

    haha this is a welfare state mind set. is welfare system really workable? all the policies they made has good intention in uk / aus , eventually people will start taking advantage of the system. A good example in UK please go to have a look in this link http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/21/nhs-brand-sold-overseas-hospitals. Totally rubbish? what singapore government had done is really good and healthy for the country.

  9. 01dsk001 said

    The saddest thing is the lack of respect for certain jobs. It’s almost like a perverted caste system sort of mentality.

  10. Compare fairly said

    how big is australia? how big is singapore? i mean the physical size. Australia have crude oil, gold mine, vast land, what do we have? you want to live the australian lifestyle? Go ahead and migrate…

  11. TAP said

    Johnson, the link that you gave suggests that the NHS is so successful that its brand can be used in other countries. It actually shows that a more comprehensive and accessible health system is advantageous.

    Also, there will be people taking advantage in any system. For example, some people will argue that some rich people are taking advantage of the low personal income tax in Singapore. The more important question is – are you benefiting from the current system? If Singapore adopts a system similar to Australia, will you benefit from it? I can imagine the millionaires would not be too happy to be taxed much more.

  12. Carmen said

    One resentment I have is that Singapore does not do enough to protect singaporeans who are less educated. Yes everyone knows they need to go for skills upgrading to improve their productivity. But not everyone can afford to NOT work when they’ve been earning 800$ or less leading to little/no savings. Why are we so keen to get more foreigners when it is obvious that there IS unemployment among our own citizens. I honestly don’t care if they may not be as productive. Train them, give them skills, empower them. There’s a reason why they are CITIZENS. You protect your own people. Not give $$$ out freely to others who may not even be grateful that they get to study here for free.

    I also don’t get why there is SO much debate about setting a minimum wage. Surely a minimum wage of $1.5k is not a lot to ask for given that the cost of living is constantly escalating. As what the govt always enjoys promoting: Singapore has (one of) the highest GDP in the world. If other countries can afford to do it, why do we not? Do we have too many people currently below the minimum wage to help? If that’s the case, we clearly have much larger fundamental problems to fix.

    Its time for the govt to get off their high horses.

  13. seah said

    yes you are right.thanks for your frank comment,they talking about 4 to 6 month maternity leave if you in the civil service it ok ,what about those in the private sector.if i the boss you think i will left the place vacant until you come back?i doing business not charity,i will tell you to re apply when you feel coming back.after all i got lots of cheaper foreigner waiting to take over your jod .i waiting for this moment.,spore is money talk

  14. Alvin Seah Pitt Seng said

    Just being a Singaporean is a mental torture to me

  15. RT said

    Australia…where you pay in excess of 30-40% tax to support the welfare system which is often abused. Where you can’t take a walk after dark with peace of mind. Where you have to wonder if your kid will pick up a used syringe in a public toilet in the city (left there by someone who lives on welfare). I’m not saying Singapore is a utopia, but comments like these are from myopic people who don’t know a good thing until they they lose it.

  16. Kenneth said

    I am not sure how long these people have stayed in Australia to be able to make such comments. I have been in Australia for 14 years and these are my observations.

    FTs in Singapore contribute to society but over here, we are letting in so-called asylum seekers who do little to contribute to society but instead form their own cliques in different suburbs. If you compare the FTs in Singapore and Australia, they are both the same in that they do not try to integrate. So the situation is not unique in Singapore.

    Centerlink payments are still made even if you do not actively look for a job. All is required is a charade that shows you are looking for a job. There are a million and one people rorting the system. And for those of us who work and are middle income in Australia, we are supporting at least 3 jobless bums. Think of all the teenage mums over here that insist on having more children but does not want to work. They know they get paid for being a cow.

    As for workers over here, tell me which worker would like to work harder or smarter? At the end of the day, people over here know that they have an almost iron rice bowl, due to the unfair dismissal laws. If you start a business, hires someone who is crap at their work, you can’t sack them. You have to first warn them (1 year) then if they do not improve, manage them, meaning teach them how to improve and give them time to improve (1 year) and then re-assess again (1 year). By then the damage is already done. What are you going to do about someone who is now entrenched in your company but is still a crap performer? Carry on paying them to do a poor job?

    What about the minimum wage? Does that not create a greater imposition on the employer? How about penalty rates? Or annual increments? Do we care if the company fails here? Well, we do because we lose our jobs, but hey, so long as it is trading, people will still demand their increment, even if the company is losing money.

    Over here, people have no respect for the law. How often have there been reports of police, ambulance or other essential services people being assaulted. How safe do you feel to go out alone at night in Kings Cross, Richmond or Northbridge?

    Singapore may have its faults but tell me which country doesn’t. Do I regret leaving Singapore? In some ways I do. For the safety and security, the excellent education system (though very pressurizing), the cheap food, government subsidized housing and believe it or not, NS. I don’t regret leaving for a better quality of life, fresh air and working conditions.

    But seriously, can we have our cake and eat it too? Be thankful that the PAP is pro-active, compared to the government over here, which is re-active. In Singapore, roads are built to lead to housing estates. Here housing estates are built first, then think about building the roads.

    Having said all that, I have come to accept Australia’s faults and failings and try not to compare it with other countries as I think we can do a lot worse, even compared with Singapore.

    To those thinking that by moving here you could do a lot better, I say good luck to you. The grass is not always greener elsewhere. Just because you have come from Singapore does not mean you are entitled to anything. Coming over would now mean that you are the FT that is taking away Aussie jobs. Welcome to the Singapore FTs’ shoes.

    • sad state said

      Some people are politically motivated/benefited spurring others to one-sided views, some people just want to vent their dissatisfied life and do not reason. In other advanced countries, the online/offline citizens will draw a clear line at minorities bashing and defend those who are socially disadvantaged. singapore has a long way to go.

    • S'porean with Aust PR said

      Certain places are also not safe at night in sg. When I was in syd, I also avoid going to king cross at night. When I was in syd, I had tried to integrate but the locals did not accept me may be I did not integrate hard enough. There are also drugs taking and assault cases in sg. Sengkang and punggol also built HDB estates first before they built more roads. It is the lifestyle, weather, scenery, space and social welfare that attract people like me for migrating to au. Migration is about choice, at least as an au PR, I have a choice to stay or leave but as a sg citizen only, I dun have a choice to leave but to stay. Sg is a little red dot with no natural resources and with rising sea level due to global warming and how much national reserve is being left now only they know, can sg withstand another major crisis, who is confident? Paying high taxes never mind as long as tax payers are well taken care of by the govt. Selection criteria is more stringent and influx is better control in au than in sg, hence comparatively the quality and quantity of FTs is better in au than in sg. Sg govt is proactive to raise anything especially after every GE, most if not all govts are the same, voters have no choice but to choose the less evil ones.

    • nocando said

      does australia gives out 36m per year for foreign students?

  17. Ah Loot said

    That is the reason why there are thousands of Singaporeans in Canada.

  18. Jenny Chin said

    I have been living in Montreal, Canada for more than 3 years and the observations I have made are similar. I certainly do not agree with PAP’s policies as outlined in this article, amongst other issues.

  19. local boy said

    Good on you, mate!

    • Julie Ong said

      Hello, M/s Jenny Chin and Local Boy.

      I feel like match making both of you. I like the instant adoring response from Local Boy: ‘Good on you, mate’! Anyway, Kong Chio lah (only joking), so please don’t take it seriously. I’m serious minded but jovial too.

      M/s Chin, having lived in a liberal democracy you would have known the good points there in Montreal vis-a-vis here in Singapore. I’m sure that we can loosen up and make life more bearable for the people. I find it disgusting that the government is boasting about our national reserves and simultaneously squeeze the people through the massive import of foreigners. This will never happen in the developed countries or if it did it would be of a far more modest scale. The howls of protest would be unbearable! Truly, our government is self-serving and believe themselves to be all knowing. The citizens….well… ‘They must be more driven’!

      A heartless and even irresponsible government. They have the resources and power but no will to change things. It will be against their hidden agendas.

      So, what do you think?

      • haha said

        Frankly, i think that they think of nothing but themselves. That’s the way they brought singapore and singaporeans to be as like mentioned in the article, to be self-centered and profit(success) driven. This is all at the expenses of your own people? This is seriously BS if they think singaporeans will be happy with all the stuffs that are shoved down our throats. I believe as government you were chosen to lead your people to happiness and economical growth is only part of it, not ALL of it.

  20. corn said

    too bad we born as a singaporean, not australian. we suay lor…

  21. P Koh said

    The song One Nation One People One Singapore aptly applies to your observations. 1 Nation, 1 People, one S adds up to $.

  22. AMINURASYID said

    iF YOU WERE TO LOOK THROUGH THE GOVERNMENT RUNNING SYSTEM,THEY MAKING THE CITIZEN IN DEEP DEBT WITH THE HOUSE THAT WE ARE STAYING SUCG AS HDB. WE HAVE TO WORK ALL OUR LIFE SIMPLIFY TO REPAY BACK THE LEASE HOUSE THAT WE STAY AND GOT NO TIME AND MONEY SAVING FOR THE CITIZEN. LOOK AT THE 3 GOVERNMENT AGENCY SUCH AS HDB, URA AND JTC.

    THE ACTUAL FACT DO THE GOVERNMENT HAVE THE GRANT AND AUTHORITY TO USE THE LAND?

  23. bb said

    Maybe PM should arrange young couples to stay and work for a short period of time as PRs in Australia. The environment is highly suitable in Australia to have children and once they have say 4 children they can return to Sg permantly. Here they are baby bonus, free hospitalsing for delivery of babies and host of paental leave.and benefits Couples can also taste the life abroad and sg gov does not need bear the cost and he needs just approach the PM of Australia to have this problem solve. I do not see Singapore and all talent ministers will ever solve this baby problem. I am sick of hearing yr after after how to boost TFR.

    My colleague whose parents from Sg and only 21 yr owns a house cost SA300 plus and fresh graduate engineer earns $50000 per year even after taxation is better than Sg.

    Another aussie colleague have 5 children and whenever the family goes for a holiday both grand parents have to fetch the family as one car is not able to accomodate the whole family. PM Lee think over my suggestion.

  24. SGP said

    Please Tell us something about how much tax you pay in Australia . And make a comparation with what you pay for tax in Singapore

  25. Abdul said

    How can compare Australia and Singapore, they are huge and we are dot, no natural resource so the people are money making resources for the goverment, this will be answer from the one and only.

  26. Henry said

    The PAP policy: “SHOW ME THE MONEY!, SHOW ME THE MONEY!” says it all.

  27. Can you help Singaporeans first? said

    PAP (Poor Also Pay)

    New PAP stands for Poor Also Pay.

    1. Poors have to pay GST, and in some country that necessity items like rice is not pay on GST, Why Singapore did not follow this good example?

    2. When your bank account is lower than $500 or $1000, poor have to pay a service charge of $2, Why rich poeple of more money did not have to pay?

  28. Paper General said

    @SGP

    The website is here on ATO

    http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/

    I pay an average of 30%.

  29. J kwan said

    I am also a aus PR and recently visited Singapore. I think I finally understood why there are so many ft. We need the low educated ones to do the jobs that Singaporeans don’t wAnt to work, eg maids, constructions workers, nurses, and we need the rich ones to contribute to Singapore economy cos we have no resources to rely on like Australia. My relative recently complained to me that they advertised for a lot of jobs on newspaper and 90 percent of job seekers are foreigners. Where are the Singaporeans ? They are too good for the job? We can’t have a welfare system like Australia or we will go bust, already, a lot of manufacturing companies are moving their production offshore becos the wages of australians are too high. Singaporeans are lucky the government is so stable which allows policies to be carried out effectively. In aus, the political parties keep changing, so all the policies are just talk and no action and we tax payers ended up paying for them.

    Obviously, sg is not perfect. I don’t like discrimination of jobs ( some are less respected as others), too much pressure from school, my friends all send their kids to many after school class, ballet, piano, singing etc. and then too crowded, and foreign nurses like what the above say (go to Icu even though not as qualified)

    Even my Aussie frien who are tax payers think the welfare system is unfair for them. It encourages people to be lazy.

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