Today i shall be touching on the policies for the upcoming exciting General Elections. The contents, opinions and views are entirely of my own and i welcome discussion of these policies and yonder for the betterment of our nation. For all intents and purposes i am supporting the People’s Action Party. These are the points i shall discuss today.
Policies to discuss
Grow and share
Policies for the poor
Policies for the middle class
Policies for the senior citizens
Issues to discuss
What we stand to lose
What we could possibly gain
How we should restructure our thinking and mental paradigm
Housing is one of the hot topic issues in this year’s GE, and for obvious reasons. Housing in singapore is becoming particularly expensive. This can be expected due to our land scarcity hence leading to a lack of supply. Demand for housing has also shot up, due to the increase in our population and of foreign talents/workers coming into our country to live, work and play. Demand and supply controls the pricing for housing, and hence places an inevitable pressure, pushing the prices of housing, even HDBs into the sky.
Now let’s start off with our fundamental human rights.
“Every woman, man, youth and child has the human right to a secure place to live, which is fundamental to living in dignity, to physical and mental health, and to overall quality of life. The human right to housing is explicitly set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other widely adhered to international human rights treaties and Declarations. Despite widespread recognition of the human right to adequate housing, the UN Centre for Human Settlements estimates that over 1 billion people worldwide live in inadequate housing, and 100 million are homeless.”
Human beings have right to shelter, but as to quality we shall leave it at reasonable. It is absurd to expect a superb standard of living or shelter if one does not shell out more money than just what is given as a right as that would mean a superb standard of living for all. The HDB has been around for a while, and has received global recognition for providing the common folk with a quality standard of shelter and living. This must be attributed to the people who had the foresight and strategic capability to pull this remarkable feat.
Already the government is doing well to cool the market in order to reduce speculation. The remaining prices are simply the indication that prices of homes today simply cannot be as low as in the past. Times have changed, and it is inevitable given the huge population boom that the prices will rise. I believe that the best way to deal with such a problem would be to increase the incomes of the people, thereby allowing them to be able to afford these homes.
The Opposition’s Solution
The workers’ party have introduced a ridiculous proposal of which until now i have no idea how it could possibly work in a fair manner. The party has proposed that Housing prices be pegged at median income levels.
“The Workers’ Party said its proposal to price new flats according to median incomes will have a “minimum impact” on the resale market, because the resale market attracts not just first-time homebuyers.
In addition, new HDB flats are subject to strict criteria before they can be bought and sold, which limits the spill over effect on resale prices.” –CNA
Are they trying to say that the policy they are trying to effect aims to have a “limited” impact? I don’t think it is at all wise to introduce any policy, be it housing or otherwise to an electorate and then say it will have a LIMITED effect or impact. Why not introduce a unique, innovative policy that will have great impact and change the way it works? That is because the current way is possibly the best way it can work. The laws of economics is very clear. Demand and supply. Restriction of buying and selling is a short term strategy, it will not serve a long term problem. People need to have more income to afford more expensive houses. Reducing prices to meet low income is the reverse. These will place no pressure on the incomes of people and where would we be then?
The capitalist system inherent in our system is what i stand by. We cannot and should not turn socialistic. Dwight David Eisenhower said
“When the shallow critics denounce the profit motive inherent in our system of private enterprise, they ignore the fact that it is an economic support of every human right we possess and without it, all rights would soon disappear”
The rules of economics help apportion our resources to the most deserving, there should not be any excuse for incompetence. Natural itself practises natural selection. Try as you might you cannot escape its jaws. However with a quality system, we can ensure that everyone gets a fair chance, and that no one will live below what we deem reasonable.
Example: A person in Vietnam earns an average of US$50 a month.
Previously he was earning US$20 a month. That shows an increment of US$30 a month after a few years. Not too bad in terms of percentage. Now lets see how this matters to us.
Almost everyone in the world is making money all the time. As they earn they keep or store their money in their bank or home or piggy bank. As the economy improves, their earning power increases and their life get better. Now when we choose to apply downward pressure to housing prices as suppose to upward pressure in incomes, we may one day realise that the pay of that Vietnam worker maybe the same as ours. Perhaps 5000USD? But by then their standard of living will be higher than us due to their abundant land. Inflation of prices is natural in all growing economies. As everyone earns money, the value of housing will inadvertently rise. This is due to the lack of land we have, we cannot go building much more so quickly to arrest demand. The best way forward is to grow our income in real terms and not just in nominal terms. To place pressure on housing prices instead is the wrong method and cannot last the long term.
Some opponents may then argue that since land is limited in Singapore and that the demand is constantly growing, won’t there be a case whereby the land can no longer support the demand? This is true. This will be the time housing will be so expensive that people who cannot afford these homes have to move out of Singapore. To ensure that Singaporeans are not kicked out of their country, certain policies are already being applied. For example, quality education to ensure that we are able to compete well and win the rat race at the end.
However we cannot practise too much protectionism as this will cause the value mechanism inherent in the demand and supply concept to ruin. The incomes given to an employee is after all an indication of his/her productivity or use to that company. By giving huge pays to useless/incompetent workers who are there by virtue of being Singaporean, we face huge perils regarding our future. The value mechanism must stay. Meritocracy will retain the best for us and remove the incompetent or undeserving. Of course we must give every Singaporean a good and fair chance at it. That means a quality education regardless of incomes and also retraining facilities. A continuing education scheme, learning for life scheme should be implemented. We cannot escape the rat race, but we can make it easier for our fellow Singaporeans.
This topic is very hot. I will just put in my views and may add on to it as time passes.
My view is very simple and straightforward. It is based on good fundamental views and logic.
First of all, i do not support at protectionist policy. America at some point practised protectionism and was hurt because of it. If a big country like the states can get hurt, what more of our small dependent country? Foreign workers are necessary and foreign talents bring much needed competition. Simply put, if you are competent, why should you worry.
Many people are making many stupid comments and complaints about their workplace being flooded with Foreign Talents/workers. A few questions. Are you working at an MNC? If you are, what does the word Multi-national mean to you? If you are not working at an MNC, you would probably realise that our country relies heavily on the world at large to survive. There is nothing wrong with employers wanting to create a microcosm of the world at the workplace to simulate and encourage that particular environment. Having a world level workplace ensures that the products and services they provide are in the common interests of the world.
By being protectionistic, MNCs and companies may move out of Singapore. Jobs will be lost, your competition maybe gone, but not because the foreigners are gone, but because you don’t even have a job to compete with or for.
Once again i must implore you to consider well JFK. “ Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men.”
The only proper way to chase away foreigners is by fair competition. That is to win the competition and to take that job away from the FT who may otherwise be in it. This will keep the people of our country in check and ensure that they will be constantly pressured to better themselves and not get lazy out of a sudden. However some foreigners are always desired to reflect a cosmopolitan and dynamic society. As i always ask my friends, weren’t we once foreigners/immigrants ourselves?
Grow and Share Scheme
The grow and share scheme got me $400 dollars this year. Awesome stuff. However down to business.
The reason why there can be such a scheme at all is due to the growth of our country’s economy. If there is no growth, there cannot be anything to share. Many opposition claim that the gains of economic growth are not flowing down to the rank and file workers. This maybe true, but the situation is improving through such schemes as well as others i will touch on later.
Most importantly, i feel that the reason rank and file workers are not enjoying the gains is because they are not staking a claim in our country’s economy. One way to do this is to buy the STI which would give good returns of possibly 8-10%. Good financial literacy also could help. A nation wide scheme on this could really be useful.
The integrated resorts have really given us much to talk about. For me i feel that it has become a national symbol and an awesome addition to singapore. If not it will be too boring. As to whether it encourages social problems i would just have to say that the problems would have existed with/without the ir. For example if Johor were to create a casino just across the causeway.
The way to solve a problem is not to avoid the problem but to deal with it headon. Just because there is a possibility of gambling addiction does not mean we should close out casinos directly. The thing is learning to deal with such vicissitudes.
Other than that, proper checks will ensure that more benefits rather than problems will come from the IRs.
Policies for the poor, middle class and senior citizens
Our country has a few safety nets in place to ensure that those who fall through the cracks will have a chance at coming back strong. Policies include things like workfare, WDA retraining, financial aid, educational bursaries, pocket money fund, etc. etc.
I shall not elaborate too much. I feel that the government has more or less got it covered, but of course there is no too much for these schemes. We can never do too much for the under-privileged, however our fundamentals are sound and we can go far with them.
Why a minimum wage cannot work
Recently there have been discussions on minimum wage. My stand is clear that it will not work.
First of all a minimum wage cannot be too low as that will defeat the purpose. The minimum wage aims to destroy the economic element of demand and supply which attributes value to resources, hence how can one even purport to say that they will adjust the min wage according to the health of the economy when you deny its usefulness? Such artificial adjustment will spoil the mechanism and problems will arise. For example, a minimum wage that is high will pose costs to a company. That company may end up moving off to another country, hence taking the many jobs away from Singapore. In my opinion, i’d rather have a low paying job than none at all. Most people only think of the benefits they stand to gain, but not consider that their gain is at the expense of their friends. Furthermore what can such a policy aim to achieve? And at what costs?
Today as we enter more volatile and tumultuous times, we can expect inflation and health of economy to change very quickly and often. Adjusting the min wage many times will cost admin charges and companies may struggle to keep up to date. These charges and wasted time could have been used to increase the incomes of the general population. The minimum wage also as an inevitable element of causing people to slack. They know that they can do so as their pay will by law, not drop below a certain level. This will reduce productivity! The best way forward to raise the income of the poor is still to elevate their productivity and hence their incomes. Such a rise is intrinsic, not artificial. It shows personal improvement and will bring great satisfaction to any a worker’s life, rather than know that someone had to pass a law to do the same, and that anyone regardless of how hardworking they were to have benefited. Don’t even get me started on the slippery slope theory.
As far as senior citizens are concerned, i understand that the old in singapore are generally cash or asset rich. Most issues deal with quality of retirement life. Such issues are not pressing and hence i shall leave comments to a future opportunity.
i will not discuss ERP, COE and issues pertaining to the same. I find the arguments against their existence pathetic and downright absurd. These policies are here to ensure that congestion do not occur. If one is not convince, just go to Vietnam to take a look. What is the point of having roads or vehicles when you cannot move on it…..
I shall deal with public transport. Public transport has recently started to gain a reputation of being expensive. I would like to say that this rise is again inevitable. This is due to the world’s supply of oil. Oil supplies in the world are limited and with libya going to war, the instabilities have caused the price hike of oil. The price hike hence cannot be avoided. Other than that i do agree that there could possibly be more trains during peak hours. I do however applaud the transport ministry’s efforts to continue to build mrt lines all over the country and maybe someday most of us will take the public transport than private vehicles and be proud of it. Cheers!
I do not really know the current demographics of this electorate. However i do believe there are a number of GEN Y young voters and first time voters out there. This group of voters together with some old timers maybe tired of the PAP and may want to ‘try’ something different. I would usually applaud such courage, however this is not a ‘change i can believe in’ like in the American 2008 elections. In fact, i do believe that the change maybe to our detriment.
What we stand to lose
I see some young voters claiming that they have nothing to lose this election. Apparently so spoilt and naive our fellow Singaporeans are! They were probably brought up in our booming years and have started to take everything we have for granted. We are a first world country, we do stand to lose alot. Especially when we have absolutely no idea what the opposition will really do. Im not imploring us to not be adventurous, however the risks we take must be intelligent ones. We have to test the water, before taking the plunge. We have too much to lose.
We stand to lose our secure state. We do not live in a country whereby we have to hear gun shots ringing out in the streets at night as we try desperately hard to sleep.
We stand to lose our prosperity. When the opponents say that even during economic growth the income isn’t shared, you can be damn sure that no sharing can even happen when we have no growth. Bad policies without foresight may cost us that economic growth we so badly need to increase our income.
We stand to lose our image as an open and dynamic society. Today, besides the slight tone that we are harbouring a ‘benevolent dictatorship’, the world community at large embraces us. We are very welcomed in international communities, our leaders are respected and asked for advice. Foreigners hold their international conferences and gatherings in singapore because they know we welcome them. All this can go down the drain if we screw up our diplomatic or foreign policies.
How we should restructure our thinking and mental paradigm
I am not going to deny that our gains could be that we experience a different form of government. Different but competent and successful. In fact, many changes in governance in history have proven to be positive. However one must always bear good caution in his choices. Even as we take risks, they must be intelligent ones, and they have to be done in a manner that we risk losing as little as possible. A freak election result can destroy all these. If everyone were to vote the opposition because he/she taught that the incumbent PAP were ever strong and had a continuing stream of supporters for it maybe wrong, and if that is so, we will have to deal with such consequences that may not have been our prior intent. Every vote is an important decision and a sign of good mandate. Do not think selfishly, think for the betterment of yourself in the long term, for your future offspring, for the country. Voting is a national duty, and of every national duty, it is important to heed JFK’s advice :” Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
*more will be added as time passes.