Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong released an open letter through the People’s Action Party website yesterday (21 Nov) asking Singaporeans to work with him and the PAP.
He started his letter by saying that 65 years ago in 1954, the PAP was established to launch its “mission to build a fair and just society, and to spread the benefits of progress widely to all”.
He said that the mission has not changed, from “our first Secretary-General Comrade Lee Kuan Yew” and his team, to “Comrade Goh Chok Tong” and his team, to my team, and the next 4G Team.
“This mission will never change,” he emphasized.
“Singapore has been totally transformed from when the PAP was founded in 1954. We face increasing external challenges, and our domestic political landscape has evolved too,” he said.
“To overcome these challenges, and keep Singapore politics working for Singaporeans, we need a capable and effective government. Leaders must be responsive yet firm, to navigate Singapore skillfully through the difficulties ahead.”
He asked Singaporeans to be united so as to show the world that “we are a strong, cohesive red dot”.
“Singapore, together with the PAP leadership, has come a long way,” he said and reiterated what the PAP is doing to maintain the trust of Singaporeans.
“We will continue to uphold your trust in the PAP Government,” he said.
“We will continue to create opportunities for Singaporeans to improve their lives, to give people hope that the future Singapore will be better than today’s.”
And added, “We will continue to build a united and cohesive society, where everyone, regardless of race, language and religion, has their rightful place.”
“As we mark the 65th anniversary of the PAP’s founding, I hope you will work with me and the PAP as one Singapore, to advance Singapore towards a brighter tomorrow. Majulah Singapura!”
Majority pessimistic about their future
Just yesterday, Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey, in collaboration with Nielsen, revealed that consumer confidence in Singapore has sunk to a two-year low as concerns swirl over job security and the economy.
In their report on Thursday (21 November), Nielsen said Singaporeans are most worried about health, work-life balance and increasing food prices as well.
In a poll of 500 people, the report found that 37% of respondents were concerned about the economy in the third quarter of 2019, up from 32% in the second quarter. Additionally, in this third quarter of the year, the number of people concerned about job security stayed level at 32%. Even so, about 34% said they were optimistic about job prospects, but that is a sharp decline from 42% just the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, a recent IPS survey has found that majority of Singaporeans are pessimistic about their financial status in a decade’s time. More than five in 10 said they would experience negligible financial mobility while about one in 10 felt their fortunes would decline.
The pessimism cut across all education levels. Only 44 per cent of those with a degree were hopeful of upward mobility in 10 years’ time, with the figure falling to 40.6 per cent for Singaporeans with vocational training or a polytechnic diploma. For those with a secondary school education or below, only 23.8 per cent expected to do better in future, with 10.6 per cent thinking they would be worse off.
SCMP conducted its own survey and found that 4 out of 5 Singaporeans interviewed said their pessimism boiled down to salaries not matching up to costs, and a sense that wages were stagnant.
A Singaporean food deliveryman by the name of “Ho” was interviewed by SCMP. Ho did not complete secondary school, uses an e-scooter for his work and takes home between S$2,000 and S$3,000 a month, depending on the number of deliveries he makes. With the recent ban of Personel Mobility Devices on footpaths, he may have to get a motorbike licence and buy a bike to continue at his job. This stretches his already thin finances after supporting a wife and a five-year-old and getting a new three-room flat next year.
“I really don’t know what will happen 10 years later. You ask me to look at just the next two years, and I also don’t know how to survive,” said Ho. “It’s a very rich country but it’s progressing way too fast, not everyone can catch up with the progression.”
As for degree holders such as Beatrice, 24, who writes for a magazine, they too feel the pinch. Beatrice takes home less than S$3,000 a month and is paying off a student loan of S$28,700 after her four-year bachelor of arts in literature course. She tries to be optimistic about her future, but the cost of living is high and her pay seems stagnant. “I feel stifled,” she said. She lives with her parents in their four-room flat “out of necessity”.
Meanwhile, the Singapore government continues to allow more foreign PMETs to enter into Singapore to work, competing with locals:
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, the designated new 4G leader who would take over from PM Lee, seems to favour a 10 million population for Singapore. In March this year at a ministerial dialogue at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Heng told the students that Singaporeans need to be open to foreigners. He said, “We ought to deepen our understanding of other people… whether they are new immigrants, our immediate neighbors, students from NTU, National University of Singapore or other universities.”
Heng then told the audience that Singapore’s population density is not excessive, noting that other cities are even more crowded and dense. He went on to cite former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.