Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Singapore as the Kryptonian Red Sun Theory


One day idea shared with me in the Lothlorien chat group is the idea that Singaporeans are like Kryptonians who are constantly under the Red Sun. 

This idea originally came from Superman comics. It is known that the Green Kryptonite can kill Superman, but Red Kryptonite can render him powerless and ordinary. Before Krypton was destroyed, the entire planet existed under the Red Sun, so Kryptonians are just ordinary people on their home planet. When Krypton was about to be destroyed, Superman's scientist parents sent him to Earth where he came under the influence of the Earth's Yellow Sun which gave him godlike powers. 

There are two useful applications of this theory :

a) Mediocre Singaporeans will do much better academically in a Western country like Australia

The original idea was a comment about just how brutal our education system is. Even when I was cramming for a 3-year Law School programme, I realised that somehow, my daughter has to study almost as much as I do. And it's always CL2. My daughter even had to maintain a diary with drawings during the last holidays. The questions posed in primary is already quite difficult and this has caused a buildup of a very profitable tuition sector for ex-teachers. 

As a child of the 80s, I can attest to how my fellow Singaporeans had such a good time when studying in Australia. An Australian does not have the same pressures as a Singaporean, if they are not academically inclined, they can do very well as a miner. Even their minimum wages were one of the highest in the world. Singaporeans who come back from Australian universities always developed a more exuberant personality while abroad, whereas those who stayed put always lose a bit of their individuality back home. Some even go batshit insane studying in a pressure cooker like NUS. 

This is why I doubt that Singaporeans will choose to Lie Flat and pull out of society. Why not emigrate to Australia where you, too, can become an academic Kal-El?

Interestingly, no parent has considered the geo-arbitrage possibility where they save up the fees that should have gone into a tuition centre into an Australian degree. 

I leave someone else to do the maths.

b) Singaporeans who save and invest aggressively here can look to a better lifestyle somewhere else

This Singapore Red Sun idea can also be applied to personal finances. Because of frugal roots, we find that Singaporeans save 20% off their take-home pay in our CPF. Beyond that, savings into REITs and blue-chips do not attract capital gains and dividends taxes. This means that most Singaporeans with about 10 years of working experience in Singapore would have accumulated more assets beyond most Westerners in the same income band.

If a Singaporean emigrates to another country, he can pull out all his savings and should comfortably be able to buy up landed property and a car in another country. As savings were accumulated tax-free, it is theoretically possible to pull put an investment in a foreign country and begin to supplement your income with dividends from day one, and this time your CPF money would be fully under your control. 

The only weakness is that you'll be paying more punishing taxes in your new home. 

If any Singaporean wishes to move to a Westernised country, based on the work my students have done, they need to supplement their lifestyle with some work, but it can be very chill and relaxed compared to Singapore. But if the Singaporean moves to another country in Asia, retirement is definitely possible on $500,000 SGD. 

I think as we celebrate National Day this week, we should appreciate the fact that we've grown to be disciplined people that can turn our personal struggles to be something meaningful. If anything, networks of ex-Singaporeans have sprouted up in many overseas countries allowing us to have a taste of what it's like to live and play away from the Kryptonian Red Sun.

I will stay because my investment income has already broken free from the gravity on Planet Singapore. 

But the question for readers is this :

Will you stay or will you go?




  1. Think some are giving too much credit to sinkies. Yes, many can excel in overseas unis. But most can't really thrive living & working overseas, even with cum laude/2nd uppers Ivy League/Oxbridge degrees. It's not an intelligence or capability thing; it's a character & mindset thing.

  2. I'd be happy to admit that I'll struggle in a Western country because labour costs are high and I need to have better DIY skills to make it.

  3. Hi Christopher, Primary school is demanding in Singapore because alot of the subjects demand t hat students have a through understanding of core concepts. Our primary school curriculum is very much grounded on the fact that concepts are important for foundational development. For instance a simple idea like : What is division? " Logically speaking you can only divide when things are equal so putting a spin on this concept spawns many 'challenging questions' for our primary school students. A tuition centre cannot replace the job of a school or teacher who primarily teach concepts in their lesson & curriculum planning at t he start of every academic year. Unfortunately, a lot of parents are also weak in concept development hence they find it very challenging to juggle their jobs and relearn the concepts so they can reteach or coach their children. Hence most send them to good tuition centres. Just my personal opinion and the way I view the education landscape in SG.

    1. It's strange that after so mnay years of education, adults acn't seem to grasp core concepts of mathematics. I got some books on modelling math problems and they seem quite useful even in every life.