Upfront, I am a born here, bred here Singapore Chinese.
I totally agree with Alvin.
Firstly, we don’t even need compare living in Singapore with say Hong Kong, Australia, UK, US, Canada and even in good parts of China (e.g. Shanghai, Beijing) because hands down, these places beat Singapore when you weigh everything up. The favourite argument line Singapore government loves to take is “oh but you know you will pay loads more taxes in places like Australia, UK, US, Canada, etc”.
Well, that’s not true. I used to believe this crap that one of the biggest advantages of being Singaporean is we pay way lower taxes. But I have woken up and see the facts is not such. In places like US, Canada, Uk etc, while it may seem you are paying more taxes (say 40%), but don’t forget that much of these taxes collected goes to welfare benefits which you too will enjoy. However n Singapore, even if you pay say just 15%, all these money goes to the government, you are on your own for medical expenses, education, retirement etc. Our government says it subsidizes. Really? go do your numbers and you know it doesn’t add up. But this is a separate topic on its own.
In Singapore, they tax you front load, in other indirect forms such as COE, high HDB prices, regardless how much you earn and whether you even have a job or not.
I never really thought of comparing Singapore to Malaysia, because honestly, many Singaporeans do grow up thinking Malaysia as their poorer neighbour and you won’t even think of including Malaysia for comparisons especially in living standards and happiness. But Alvin has put forth a very strong and logical argument.
I used to think Singapore is great because it’s safe, etc. Well in a way, that’s true. But hey, if you get into legal trouble, you wish you were in Malaysia where you can just pay off and be done with it. I don’t think the government has time to waste on legal cases like Cecilia Sue, Teacher-Student sex.
I don’t wish to reiterate Alvin’s points of arguments here, I think he has already elaborated them well, self-explanatory.
Before you start getting nationalistic and lambast him for the article, please just take a moment to ask yourself whether are you really happy with your own living standard. If the FT overcrowding public transport and FT taking away local jobs doesn’t affect you, if you can well afford to buy 1-2 cars despite the ridiculous COE prices, and if the $1mln HDB and overall property prices doesn’t affect you, then yes, you are right that Alvin is talking shit and Singapore is indeed a great place to be in. Or if you are one of those 60% who voted for PAP and still blinded, then sure, go ahead the slam Alvin for talking shit.
But if you are those amongst us who are gradually living under impossible conditions, despite all the cosmetic front that our government put forth to impress outsiders, then you will see some truth in Alvin’s article.
So touch your heart, and see things objectively.
*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times.