By Te Ma Sek
I am a born and bred citizen of this beautiful city that I call home. It is my personal view that about 60% of our population fits into two categories. Some of us just don’t realize it at the present moment.
Group A are those that live in a four bedroom flat or bigger. Have two incomes supporting the household. Probably drives. Runs an SME or holds a 4 figure monthly job. Almost everything that they own is being paid off by monthly loans or installments. In short they do not own anything. This group has little cash savings, and their world would come crashing down if either one of them loses a job or God forbid, are hit with a medical tragedy.
Group B lives in a three-room flat or smaller. I along with many others fall into this lower income group. One breadwinner and more often than not looks after their aged parents. Family income of below $2,000.00 a month. Rarely have any savings. Have one or more outstanding debts.
Both these groups rely heavily on public transport, public housing, and public healthcare. These three expenses are the root of almost all our problems.
In 1978, a 4 room HDB flat merely cost about $24,000 with the average salary man’s wage at about $300 to $400 a month. Moving forward to 2015, a 4 room HDB flat averages at about $400,000 with a mean wage of $1500 per month.
Notice anything wrong with the numbers? Public housing has increased to almost 2000%. Wage increased? About 400%.
It is the calling, not for the money
Ask yourself this one question, what were our Ministers’ salary back then and what is it now? If there is a compulsory need to increase the salaries of the people that we have voted into power to look after our needs to provide what’s best for the citizens that are paying their salary; then why are we living, paycheque to paycheque? Why do we boast the highest paying Government in the world when we don’t even have a minimum wage?
I’ve met people in my life that had a passion to make changes to help and serve society. They do not take home a big fat cheque every month. They do it because they want to do it, because it’s a calling. If money was the attraction, that’s not passion. It never was and never will be a passion to serve the people. It was a job offer with perks and privileges.
The BIG three expenses
To the ministers earning millions a year, a thousand dollars is pocket change. It is an insult to harbor even the thought that a fellow Singaporean can afford to buy a flat with your pocket change.
Paying the monthly electricity, gas and conservancy charges and multiply that by 12 months. Multiply the amount you got by 99 and add the cost of your flat. How much are you paying for a flat that was never yours in the first place?
Why are we paying such a ridiculous sum for 30 stories of Lego Block, built by low skilled workers on land owned by the Government and this is supposed to be Affordable Public Housing!?
What is wrong with our transportation? It is my same argument. Transportation charges are ever increasing. Our wages are not.
Transportation takes a large chunk out of our wages. The government boasted that we had a world-class system that would never fail. I’ve lost count of the number of times the MRT has broken down. At some locations, the intervals between buses are a nightmare. How much profit is enough? Will it ever be enough? Are the fares being increased capped to what our MP’s are earning?
I mean, come-on. Even a group of foreign workers, living in a hostel could recognize wage inequality and start a little drama. Don’t you think we, Singaporeans as a whole are facing a far larger problem?
Public Healthcare. I was at Hospital that’s famous for its shortages of beds sometime ago. I’ve not been to the hospital for quite some time. The GP told me that I needed to go the hospital because my injury was slightly severe. Imagine my shock when registration asked me how I was going to pay $108.00. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT DAMN DOLLARS!!! If I had a weak heart, I would probably have been put in a wheelchair and started my queue for a hospital bed. But of course, I would have been discharged without the privilege of having sight of that bed.
Where is our Public Healthcare? If we can afford to pay our MP’s, there is no reason that a system cannot be put in place to look after a majority of our population. I hate to compare Singapore with any other country because we live in different circumstances. But could someone read and understand what Obamacare is about or the medical healthcare system of other countries.
I do not wish to be part of a generation that sees an ill person get turned away because he could not afford the registration fees.
Neglecting the needs of the people
We are a significant part of this society that has been looked over in favor of a greater GDP. A cosmopolitan melting pot where Foreigners are welcomed to have high paying jobs, invest, start a company. Buy HDB flats at ridiculous prices. Given PR status. Our needs have been neglected for way too long while the very people that we voted into power are honored that people from faraway lands has chosen our 50 years old fishing village to call their home.
Now hold on a second. If you’re contemplating of calling me a Xenophobic. Shame, shame on you.
I have family members who are foreigners too. It’s not their fault. They never forced our Government to give them such benefits. They are just taking advantage of our system because they are allowed to do so.
Now how are people in the lower income group supposed to compete on a level playing field? Our jobs are being given to foreigners for a fraction of what it takes to pay a Born and Bred Singaporean. Again let me stress this point that I have the utmost respect for this foreigners who make a voyage to this far away 50 years old fishing village so that their family back home can lead a comfortable life, build a big home with a Smart TV, use a Smart Phone and what not. Not their fault at all. Our Government allows it and gives Employers the choice of employing a Singaporean or some foreigners for the same amount of money.
The foreigners that come here because they have no jobs in their country are allowed to work in Singapore. They have better prospects and can take greater care of their families’ wellbeing. From food & beverage, construction to fast food restaurants the foreigners working there are allowed to do so by the people we voted into power. There are no two ways about it.
I want to look after my family too. I’m not looking for charity or handouts. I’m not asking for a free meal. I want a level playing field. I want better opportunities. Let’s be clear here, the foreigners can pack up and decide to leave anytime they want. We, on the other hand, are still faced with the costs of “public” housing, transportation and healthcare. We are the proud owners of a Pink IC. We have roots here; we have family here. We can’t pack up and leave because the system has forgotten that we exist, continuing to overlook our needs. We are not a commodity. We are Singaporeans. This is our land.
My heart goes out to the cardboard and used can collecting aunties and uncles who even in their golden years have to slog for a living because no one has fought for their cause. Not just a mention here and there to score political points. We are not seeking for labels. Do not pity us. We don’t want your sympathy.
I demand what’s written in our Constitution. THAT EVERY INDIVIDUAL IS EQUAL.
Not just a privilege few. It’s about time that we have our rights and privileges as the Citizens of Singapore.
I’m not Pro-Opposition nor Pro-PAP. Although the latter has got to make some drastic and significant changes if it plans to stay relevant. There are two opposition leaders that I feel would take us into the right direction of our future. I’m pro-Singapore, which beats any party affiliations.
Do we need another 50 years to make that change?