Friday, 30 March 2012

Demise of the Singapore Dream 5Cs - The debate revisited

Reading this blog post from another blogger  caused me to re-visit the discussion about the Singapore Dream which was coined in the 1990s. Namely, Cash, Car, Credit card, Condominium and Country club membership.'s_of_Singapore

Let's first start with Cash : In fact, let's put this to the last topic and you will see why.

Car : Unless you have been living under the sea, you will realise that the price of Cars in Singapore has escalated to a ridiculous level. COE's right now are at S$82,000 for cars with a capacity about 1,600cc. For that price of the paper issued by the govt, you can buy TWO or THREE cars in Australia !

Credit Cards : This used to be an indication of your earning power and ability to hold a credit card. No more! Lots of banks now offer pseudo-Credit Cards that require no minimum income, just have the money in the bank. For example HSBC Secured Visa Credit Card, In any case, I never felt that this was a worthly matric for the Singapore Dream.

Condominium : Here is the big key item in the Singapore psyche, the key measure and determination that you studied hard, worked hard, you will buy a government HDB flat and then eventually upgrade to private property status. That is no longer the formula to success in Singapore property. Condo prices in Singapore are above S$1,000 per square ft and the soon to be lauched in Bishan Sky habitat is slated to be sold at S$1,600 to S$1,700 per square ft
Assuming a 1000 square ft apartment, that will cost S$ 1,700,000. With the median household income of
S$ 7,040 (2011 numbers) and rule of 1/3 of salary to be spent on housing. It will take 60 years to repay back the loan! (not even including interest!) Even with all the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), the private property prices are still ludicrous in Singapore!

Country club membership : This was another indication of making it in Singapore, with the opportunity to visit the country club with the family and have a game of golf during the weekend. The membership fees for these have also increased over the years, though not at a pace of housing and cars. The most expensive being where the top elites of Singapore pay, Singapore Island Country Club at more than S$ 200,000

Cash : So with all the large-ticket items above, do we have any cash??

The Demise of the Singapore dream, is not new, it has been succintly described in a New York Times Article in June 1996
"In paternalistic Singapore, we are told, 'Just listen to us and keep your nose clean and everything will be all right,' " said a professional woman in her early 30's who asked not to be identified.
"I studied, I got my degree, I got a good job," she said. "I did everything right, and it looks like I'll be living with my mother the rest of my life. I didn't make any eccentric choices; I didn't go into the arts or anything like that, and where's the payoff?"
In a plaint that is widely quoted here, Phua Mei Pin, a 19-year-old intern at The Straits Times, which generally presents the Government line, wrote in the newspaper last week of her generation's increasing disillusionment.
"I am not asking for an emperor's condos and stables of Benzes, just a small place I can belong to and that can belong to me," she wrote. "Already I have friends who are drawing up blueprints of their futures in Australia and America, where they believe they can stretch the same dollar much further."
In fact, the 5Cs as traditionally known in Singapore has been replaced by the following :-
Crush : As of 2011, the population of Singapore is 5.18 million people, of whom 3.25 million (63%) are citizens while the rest (37%) are permanent residents or foreign workers. Twenty-three percent of Singaporean citizens were born outside Singapore i.e. foreign born citizens. There are half a million permanent residents in Singapore in 2011. The infrastructure in Singapore is unable to cope with the sudden and uncomfortable influx.
Casino : Two integrated resorts here in Singapore with the intend to bring in foreign money has also the dark side of more and more Singaporeans getting into the addiction of gambling to revive the Singapore Dream.
Complaints : Related housing, transport cock-ups, taxi fare hikes, senior citizen facilities non-ideal location...the complaints go on and on.

Cock-ups : SMRT Train disruptions, Flash flooding in Orchard Road, Senior officials from the public sector dismissed etc.... Having pride ourselves that Singapore is a place that is efficient and clean, and where things get done, the series of boo-boos have been very embarrassing.
Change : At the end of the day, even if the Singapore Dream is not attainable by everyone in Singapore, there must be a hope eternal that it can be attained. When that Dream is no longer perceived to be achievable, then pragmatic Singaporeans will force a CHANGE to enable that Dream to be revived.

Friday, 16 March 2012