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Tan Kin Lian conducts online poll about life in S'pore.

Life in Singapore

Tan Kin Lian / Columnist

How do Singaporeans feel about life in Singapore. I carried out a survey in my blog. 115 people replied.

A breakdown by age and annual income is:

Below 30

20%

31 to 50

52%

Above 50

28%

Below $50k

51%

Above $50k

49%

There is a good distribution of participants by age groups but an over-representation of participants in the higher income group.

The participants were asked to give a rating to 19 items. For each item, they have to give a score of 1 (very unhappy) to 5 (very happy). A score of 3 indicates a neutral position.

The average score for 65 participants on the 19 items was 2.83. It is slightly below neutral. The participants were, on average, slightly unhappy.

High ratings

The items that scored the highest were, in the following order:

 

Average

Safety

4.02

Law and order

3.87

Multi racial culture

3.43

Work colleagues

3.28

Environment

3.25

Neighbours

3.24

Singaporeans like our safety, law and order, multi racial culture, work colleagues, clean and green environment and neighbours.  These features fared well over the past decades. More importantly, people like the bond and identity among Singaporeans.

Low ratings

The items that scored the lowest were:

 

Average

Transport system

2.50

National service

2.35

Foreign workers

2.34

Government leaders

2.32

Tax, GST, govt charges

1.91

Cost of living

1.85

Singaporeans dislike the high cost of living and taxes, GST and the government charges (e.g. ERP). These are well known and ranked at the bottom of the scale.

They dislike foreign workers who compete for jobs here. Ranked below foreign workers is the rating of our Government leaders. This is a matter of concern. Are our Government leaders losing the respect and bonds with the citizens?

National service is also strongly disliked. This is worrisome, as national service is the foundation of our national security. Perhaps it is time to review the role of national service. Is it fair that the burden should be borne by our male citizens, who have to compete with foreign workers who come easily to work in Singapore? Perhaps, this is also the reason for the low rating given to the foreign workers.

The transport system also appears to be quite lowly rated. We used to have an world class transport system which was the pride of Singaporeans. In recent years, the rating has dropped. This is probably due to the priority given by the transport operators to increase their profits at the expense of convenience and comfort of the commuters, and the recent increase in taxi fares and ERP charges.

Income levels

Here are some significant differences in ratings between respondents at the lower and higher income levels. The dividing line is an annual income of $50,000.

 

Less than
 $50,000

More than
 $50,000

Diff

Overall rating

2.71

2.98

-0.27

Adequate wages

2.23

3.38

-1.15

Cost of living

1.53

2.22

-0.69

Taxes, GST, charges

1.65

2.22

-0.57

Quality of life

2.76

3.31

-0.55

Foreign workers

2.14

2.55

-0.41

Government leaders

2.12

2.53

-0.41

National service

2.2

2.59

-0.39

In most items, the lower income groups give a lower rating compared to the higher income groups. Life is more difficult for the lower income groups in Singapore, due to their low wages and the higher cost of living.

 

Less than
$50,000

More than
$50,000

Diff

Singaporeans

2.65

2.65

0.00

Time to enjoy

2.60

2.55

0.05

Environment

3.34

3.24

0.10

Time with family

2.98

2.85

0.13

Climate

2.96

2.69

0.27

The lower income groups gave the same or better ratings for the above factors.

Younger people

Here is a comparison between participants below 30 years and participants of all ages.

 

Below
30 years

All ages

Diff

Overall rating

2.89

2.83

0.06

Singaporeans

2.55

2.63

-0.08

Foreign workers

2.18

2.34

-0.16

Time with family

2.57

2.91

-0.34

Adequate wages

2.27

2.77

-0.50

Time to enjoy

2.00

2.57

-0.57

The overall ratings for the younger participants are quite close to the rating for all ages.  The next four ratings show significant negative differences between the younger participants and all participants.

The differences suggest that younger people are working harder, getting inadequate wages and have less time with family or to enjoy. Perhaps this accounts for their reluctance to marry and raise a family.

Older people

Here is a comparison between participants above 50 years and participants of all ages.

 

Above
50 years

All ages

Diff

Overall rating

2.89

2.83

0.06

National service

2.71

2.35

0.36

Singaporeans

2.97

2.63

0.34

Government leaders

2.55

2.32

0.23

Time to enjoy

2.80

2.57

0.23

The overall ratings for the older participants are quite close to the rating for all ages. The next four ratings show significant positive differences between the older participants and all participants.

The differences suggest that the older people are more positive towards national service, Singaporeans, government leaders and time to enjoy.

Conclusions

I am worried about the following findings from this survey:

  • Unhappiness about the tax, GST, charges and high cost of living
  • Low rating for Government leaders
  • Significant dissatisfaction rating of the lower income groups
  • Hard work and inadequate wages of the younger people.
  • Unhappiness about National Service
  • Unhappiness about the influx of foreign workers

The positive ratings are for safety, law and order, multi-racial culture, environment and the people of Singapore.

Perhaps Singapore can be a better place to live, if the cost of living can be kept lower by reducing tax and government charges, and giving better wages to younger people and the lower income workers.  We need social and economic policies that are more egalitarian and fairer to the people.

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