by Lim Tean
How many times in the past year have you seen celebratory headlines in the Mainstream Media proclaiming ever more family firms being set up in Singapore to manage the funds of the super-rich?
We were even told in the past that if ten more billionaires migrated to Singapore and increased the Gini coefficient, well that was not a bad thing because the wealth they create would “trickle down” to the rest of society and make every one better off.
Let me ask those of you who are old enough to remember the 80s and 90s in Singapore a few questions:-
1. Did you have a better quality of life towards the end of the last century or has the quality of your life improved since the turn of the century?
2. Was it easier for you to buy a decent home when you were starting out in life or is it easier for your children now to purchase their home?
3. Were job opportunities more plentiful when you were starting out or are there more job opportunities for your family now since treaties such as CECA came into place?
By any measure, the lives of Singaporeans have not improved but regressed this century.
We have a government that still believes firmly in “trickle down” economics. It is a case where the theory and rhetoric of neo-liberalism rant on despite the evidence all around us.
The Edge ran a very good article describing how the rich from China who have made Singapore their playground have indulged in all sorts of luxuries such as buying mansions, fancy cars and driving up the price of golf club memberships to astronomical levels, but have not invested much in Singapore!
These are the people who have driven up home prices, rentals and COEs etc.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) government accords them the privilege of low tax rates and other business friendly policies.
But as the Edge notes, these people are already well entrenched with their investments globally. Capital is so mobile these days you have to be wet behind your ears to believe that a billionaire will necessarily invest locally simply because he is resident here.
For these rich people, it is socialism to the hilt but for the rest of us it is brutal capitalism at its harshest.
So next time the PAP tells you to be proud of the gleaming city they have created, or what Ronald Reagan once described as “That shining city on the hill”, ask them for whom was that shining city built?
It is no paradise to the ordinary Singaporean, many of whom are having to work more than one job to make ends meet, to live in the “Monte Carlo” of Asia,the most expensive city in the World.
This post was first published on Lim Tean’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission. Mr Lim is the chief of Peoples Voice and a practising lawyer at Carson Law Chambers.