by Kwok Fangjie
Earlier this month, I had argued that we were already mid-way into the current term of government and the People's Action Party (PAP) did not do well in terms of bread and butter issues (Part 1) and the quality of their political leaders (Part 2).
In Part 3, I will analyse how PAP policies are causing increasing struggles for the average man on the street.
Promise of a ‘Swiss standard of living’ but we are worse than Russia
In 1984, the then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong promised to give Singaporeans a “Swiss standard” of living by 1999. Some 30 years after the promise, then PAP MP Inderjit Singh argued in Parliament that we have “failed to achieve” this goal while a UBS report concluded in 2011 that our purchasing power parity per capita was worse than Russia.
Never mind the failed promise, but further squeezing the average man dry?
If the 2011 report is anything to go by, the reality might have been worse in 2018. With CPF paying a low interest of 2.5% since the 1990s, Singaporeans have relied on the capital appreciation of their HDB flats for retirement needs – a model that the government is aware of with policies such as the lease buyback scheme.
Yet, limited re-development for public housing and a zero-value once its lease is up has touched the nerves of owners. With restrictions on the use of CPF for the purchase of older flats that has remaining lease less than 60 years, the market has become worse for older flats. In a recent case, the owner had to settle for 15% less than one she asked for! Statistics show that the price gap between HDB flats older than 40 years and under 40 years have climbed up as much as 65%.
Despite increasing concerns over costs of living and job security, those turning to drive Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) are left dismayed. Despite their increasing numbers, PHVs do not qualify for tax deductions on their expenses (such as vehicle rental and petrol) and have to pay a high percentage of their earnings on Medisave prompting one to say that they are being squeezed “left, right and centre” by the government.
Additionally, the PAP has increased miscellaneous fees for no justifiable reason. Despite carpark income from both HDB and URA being close to $600 million, parking fees were raised in 2016 and recently, parking fees are to be introduced to all national schools and junior college schools this coming August while water and gas tariffs were continuously raised despite the SP group making almost $1 billion per year for the past 13 years.
The rationale behind the policies?
Alternative political parties have spoken strongly against such policies on the basis that they cannot be justified when Singaporeans are facing increasing economic uncertainty and the government has been running at a surplus. The Singapore Democratic Party has called such policies “broken promises” on part of the PAP and that they are “taking advantage” of Singaporeans.
What do you think?