Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Singaporeans, defend thyselves for goodness sake !

Seems that Malaysiakini.com has a number of anti-Singapore articles out on the Internet. One problem I see on the web is that many Singaporeans hate the PAP so much, they fail to distinguish an attack on the country from an attack on our style of governance. As such, articles on Malaysiakini are greeted not so much as outrage by our own citizens but its saddening to see that Singaporeans are cheering Malaysians on when they write nasty articles about our country.

Today, I would not dispute the facts behind these recent articles because its possible that they are true but I would rather challenge the conclusion that came out of it, these articles attempt to demonstrate that Singapore must be quite a terrible place to be because of the plight of our poor. But to be fair, we have to ask ourselves if a society without poverty exists and whether the author of the article chose to examine his own society before casting that rock against ours.

When positioning ourselves in front of criticism, sometimes its helpful to look at recent studies from neutral parties to assess how good or bad a society can be. One example I would like to quote is a recent study done by the folks here :


The Happy Planet Index is broken down into three components.

In the first component, life satisfaction, a survey which measures how satisfied Singaporeans are, Singapore scored 7.1. The only place in South Asia or East Asia which did better was Hong Kong at 7.2. Malaysia was behind us at 6.6. Another words, based on a survey done by a third party, Singaporeans are generally more satisfied than Malaysians.

The second component, life expectancy, Singapore scored 79.4 versus Malaysia's 73.7. So in such a case, not only are we more satisfied with our lives, we live longer as well.

Of course, many netizens will remind us that Singapore lost to Malaysia in the third component which measures our ecological footprint. It would take a lot more resources to sustain Singapore than Malaysia per unit acre - a fair result given that we're five million people crammed on a little red dot. Singapore's score of 4.2, while larger than Malaysia's 2.4, is much smaller than the US which is at 9.4 or even Hong Kong.

I welcome netizens to go through the website and share with us more findings and expose more biases in the study but I urge Singaporeans to remind ourselves that we're much bigger than our government. Criticising the PAP and Singapore is our job and I might even say that its our duty. But when foreigners criticise us, we should react in a measured and objective manner that preserves respect between two neighbours.

When our nation is attacked or criticised, it's up to us and not PAP to defend us but our own fellow countrymen.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Alternatives to Emigration for Unhappy Singaporeans.

SM Goh has, once again, brought up the issue of emigration amongst our citizens. There is sufficient finger pointing on the web on how the PAP has socially engineered our society into one which does not value our citizens. The aim of this article is to neither support nor oppose the main thrust of what the web is feeling collectively but to acknowledge that it is within our control to do something about this without taking the drastic step of giving up their NRIC cards.

Here's some suggestions on what I think can be viable alternatives to emigration:

a) Adopt alternative benchmarks.

A lot of emigration arises from feeling insecure as Singapore is perceived to have a very small group of winners versus a collectively larger group of losers. Winners get comfortable jobs in the civil service, live longer lives and have more autonomy and life satisfaction. One way of coping with this is to develop an internal benchmark on what success really is. While you may not excel in the area of achievements, you may excel in relationships or have attained a higher level of spiritual attainment. while you may not be a scholar, you may a very successful raid leader in WOW managing a number of players that a company director would envy.

b) Understand some advantages of being a Singaporean.

Singaporeans are stressed out at work. Local managers are sub-standard and a lot of bad management practices is inculcated during NS. But Singaporeans have low taxes and can save more money. Very few societies makes it so easy to gain access to maids to look after children and estate taxes are no longer a burden for those who wish to pass along money to future generations.

c) Leverage on the free lunches in Singapore.

There are free lunches in Singapore. Ridiculous low income taxes are one. Low corporate taxes and subsequent negligible taxes on dividend income is another. Singaporeans can use it to their advantage provided that they do not make the mistake of over-consuming too much and paying too much GST and subsidising the civil service through paying COE and road taxes. Getting from one point to another in Singapore still costs less than $3 if you plan your journey well and use public transport.

d) Stop thinking about what others feel about careers and family.

A lot of pressure comes from sabotage from one's own family. Many Singaporeans are comfortable being single as it is a very efficient arrangement. Others get married but never have children as they want to take advantage of dual incomes. A lot of stress disappears if you live your life the way you want to. So what if a relative thinks that being single and not having kids is abnormal? if you want to be a couple, have one kid or no kid but you want to travel 4 times a year, so be it.

Anyway, I'll do a post on this item again and examine some other suggestions but keep the feedback coming.