ASEAN scholarship not for Singaporeans

Despite having the scholarship offered and sponsored by Singaporean taxpayers’ monies, Singaporeans are not eligible for the ASEAN scholarship. In the website of Singapore’s latest university [Source], the Singapore University of Technology and Design(SUTD), the application of the scholarship is only open to “Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) and International Students (IS) of ASEAN* (except Singapore) nationality”. No Singaporean is hence allowed to apply for the scholarship.

This is yet another evidence that Singaporeans are second class citizens in their own country. Under the ruling PAP government, 20% of Singapore’s local university places are reserved for foreigners. Foreign students enrolled on an unfair basis as most of them do not have a GCE A Level Certificate or a local polytechnic diploma. Singaporean students are however subjected to stringent English standards and have to compete among themselves intensely to be the top few percentage of their cohort before they are allowed into the local universities. Most Singaporeans who are eligible for universities are rejected by the local universities and they ended up paying $10000 more in private foreign university degrees offered in SIM and MDIS.

Some of the foreign students have got their first degrees in their countries already and is here for a second degree, while some are simply overage. Each year, scholarships and top rankings were taken up by foreigners who had their first degrees in their hometown.

It is understood that the hostels in NUS and NTU are largely reserved for foreign students, while Singaporeans have to travel to and forth across the island for a tertiary education.

More Singaporeans leaving Singapore to settle down overseas

In the recent population report [Source] by the National Population and Talent Division, some 200000 Singaporeans are settled overseas with a large number of young Singaporeans aged between 20 and 24. As the main island is set to face more overcrowding issues in the years to come, more Singaporeans will leave the country for greener pastures. While the reasons for leaving could vary largely, the fact remains that Singaporeans in Singapore are being treated like second class citizens as the PAP government reserve preferential treatment for Permanent Residents and foreigners.

Here are some of the areas where Singaporeans are openly discriminated against by the ruling PAP:

1) Single Singaporeans below the age of 35 are not allowed to purchase HDB resale flats while married foreigners with Permanent Residency are allowed so.

2) Married Singaporeans with a foreign spouse are not given Dependent passes that allow them to work, but foreigner Employment Pass(E-Pass) holders are given dependent passes with employment access.

3) Singaporean males are expected to risk their lives and serve 2 years of full time National Service and 10 years of reservist while healthy new citizens and Permanent Residents get to enjoy the security without paying their dues.

4) Singaporean students who are eligible for university admission are denied so as a minimum of 20% of the total local university places are reserved for foreign students.

 

Census 2012 reflect poor performance of the ruling PAP

Singapore Statistics have released the updated census of Singapore [Source] and the numbers inside are telling that the ruling authoritarian PAP have little or no solution to Singapore’s existing and long term social problems. Here is why:

 

1) Falling birth rate continues
Singapore residents are still unable to replace themselves to stop the drastic falling birth rate at 1.2, this shows that not only Singaporeans are not reproducing, Permanent Residents are likewise avoiding so, hence cancelling PAP’s speculations that there is anything wrong with anyone holding the pink ICs.

 

2) Old-age support ratio worsens
The number of working Singaporeans supporting elderly is currently at its lowest in history at 6.7 adults per elderly. Every decade, the ratio goes lower by 1.3 on average, and by 2021 Singapore is expected to see an approximate 5.4 ratio. This is however not a issue as the PAP Government do not support Singaporean elderly and simply forwarded their responsibility to private charities and self-help organizations.

 

3) Overcrowding worsens
Population density has reached its highest ever at 7436 persons per km sq. Unfortunately, the PAP government doesn’t care about the overcrowding issue either as PM Lee Hsien Loong has indicated that Singapore would probably increase its population to 6 million or the 2nd densest country in the world at 8399 persons per km sq.

 

4) Family formations trends
Singaporeans continue to marry later and divorce rates have risen to its peak in history at 7604 cases in 2012. The inherent cause of such trends is largely financial as the cost of living in Singapore continue to increase and deter people from having more time and effort spent on relationships.

 

 

Despite the effects of new policies to boost birth rate, there is no stopping to the falling birth rate issue. It is hence evident that the PAP government has no better solutions that would bring the birth rate up. As housing remains unaffordable, the cost of living is also unchecked by the PAP and CPF Withdrawal Age continues to increase, it is natural Singaporeans postpone or put off family planning until they can ensure they are able to retire. The real solution of ensuring a decent retirement for Singaporeans however deviate from the PAP’s short term economical goal of growing higher GDP.

 

Although the problem of falling birth rate could be temporarily mitigate by the import of foreigners, the PAP government doesn’t realize that this will compound the ageing population problem further when new citizens grow old and doesn’t reproduce either. Over the years, there have been solutions proposed from the people but the ground-up approach clashes with the PAP’s bureaucratic style of governance. Some of this solutions called for more housing subsidies, allowing singles to buy HDB flats, disallowing PRs’ rights to HDB resale flats, free education for Singaporean students, restructuring the COE system and ease inflation through the removal of GST on essential goods items. The PAP however approach the falling birth rate through giving more incentives to businesses to grant more parental leaves and increasing the one-off cash payout for birth, which is apparently not working. As elitism seeps in the ruling PAP, getting solutions from the commoners is a bruise to their ego and doesn’t justify their million dollar salaries. It is very likely these social problems will continue to worsen to a point where a shock therapy is needed to correct things out.

Lee Hsien Loong: Wages in manufacturing sector growing faster than national average

At the Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation’s 80th anniversary dinner on Saturday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong repeated his usual calls for productivity and not forgetting to boast about Singapore’s tripartism calling it “unique”. What Prime Minister Lee doesn’t know, is that tripartism is not a new system coined by the PAP. Tripartism traced its roots back to the rise of fascism in the 1930s, but in Singapore, “forced tripartism” is more appropriate as the PAP government control workers through banning of private unions and the use of Internal Security Act to detain workers on strikes indefinitely.   In his speech to the dinner largely attended by MNCs CEOs and manufacturing business employers, the pro-business Prime Minister painted a picture too rosy for workers in the manufacturing sector:

“He said manufacturing provides good, skilled jobs to Singa­poreans, with average local wages in the sector growing faster than the national average for a number of years.” ~Lee Hsien Loong, ChannelNewsAsia 29 Sep 2012 [Source]

However according to the recent report on wages by the Ministry of Manpower, wages in the manufacturing sector falls under the “Below-Average Total and Basic Wages”:

“All industries gave wage increases to their employees in 2011 (Appendix-Table 1). Financial & insurance services employees had the largest total wage increase (9.1%), while transportation & storage…were also in the lead. In contrast, administrative & support services (total: 3.7%; basic: 3.5%), manufacturing (total: 4.1%; basic: 4.0%), construction (total: 4.2%; basic: 3.9%) and accommodation & food services (total: 4.5%; basic: 3.8%) had among the lowest total and basic wage increases.” ~Report on Wages in Singapore by Ministry of Manpower [Source]

Nevertheless, Singapore could still survive with an incompetent Prime Minister but this also reflect how badly the brain drain in the ruling PAP has turned out with a leader shooting his mouth off in the presence of rich foreign investors.

Lee Hsien Loong pressures Singaporeans further

“If the decision is to have a place that Singaporeans are proud to live in and where others look up to, Mr Lee said the country can get there. He said Singapore has the resources and it is prepared to thrive.

But Singaporeans need to have a “toughness of mind” to do that. Should Singaporeans decide on a more relaxed pace of life, with less pressure, Mr Lee warned that new pressures will come.” ~ ChannelNewsAsia [Source]

 

In yet what seems like another potshot taken at Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong steps up the pressure on Singaporeans reminding them to toughen their mind as Singapore would remain a stressful place to live in under his GDP-first style of governance. Although Singaporeans are already clocking one of the the most working hours in the world at 2307 per year [Source] and marrying later due to social stress, the Prime Minister either sees no need to alleviate the hard-striving Singaporeans’ sufferings or is simply disconnected from the masses.

 

Singapore has one of the fastest pace of living in the world with intense competition internally in the ranking-obsessed society from pre-school to employment. The unhealthy competition worsen ever since PM Lee Hsien Loong took helm and imported some 2 million foreigners since 2002. Under PM Lee, cheap foreign influx flooded the labor market and depressed salaries of citizens. Employment opportunities for Singaporeans were also stifled as MNCs prefer to hire their own people and relocate them in Singapore. One such example is Changi Business Park, where foreign employee pass holders outnumbered locals by nearly 3 to 1. Aside from PMET jobs, low income workers like cleaners see their real median income salary falling between 2000 and 2011. The obvious lower employment opportunities and income however makes good profits for foreign employers and government-linked companies.

Incompetent companies survived on the savings made from cheap foreign labor, while the better ones chart record profits. As a result, employers in Singapore become poor at innovation and risk taking as the PAP government pampers them with corporate tax cuts and pro-employers policies. The government-controlled workers’ union, the NTUC, and with draconian laws threatening indefinite detention to workers on strikes, employees in Singapore are under-represented and voiceless, with one of the lowest salaries among the developed countries. This is proven by a commentary by the Straits Times [Source], which revealed that the median purchasing power of Singapore workers in Singapore lag behind most cities at a ranking of 50th out of 73 cities. The immense financial stress alone working on Singaporeans have resulted in the lowest birth rate and the highest retirement age.

Political Opportunism bleak with ruling party

Meet Ong Ye Kung, the PAP candidate for Aljunied GRC who threw in the towel in just merely a year after the last election. For a newbie politician with the PAP, he was well-endorsed by the Prime Minister himself who once touted him as a ministerial calibre. It must be a great disappointment for the PM, who is probably going to complain yet again why his PAP party is losing talents to the private sector because Singaporeans in Aljunied GRC gambled their future by voting a team of Opposition.

George Yeo, the former foreign minister, has also announced his retirement very soon right after his GRC was taken down by the Workers’ Party. Why is the PAP not able to retain loyalty when power and money is not gratified in return? This boils down to the fundamentals of the PAP political culture. They are supposed to be the best Singapore have, or so they self-proclaimed, and their elitist ego simply couldnt stand defeat especially when they are already empowered with porkbarrel political tools with the help of the Electoral Department’s blatant gerrymandering, the GST cash payouts, the GRC system, the People’s Association, the mainstream media and the “cooling off day”. Imagine how much worse would PAP fare if they are contested one to one on even conditions. The fact remains it is always harder for the Opposition to be elected in Singapore as compared to asian democracies like Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Taiwan and Japan where life goes on without any hiccups upon a regime change.

With rising discontentment and vocal young Singaporeans calling for Change, political opportunists could no longer rely on the PAP to get a sleeping job in Parliament. The Opposition may still be weak and disperse, but they are are at least attracting decent people who are truly serving Singapore despite the draconian hurdles legislated. Elites like Ong Ye Kung and George Yeo can always fall back on the government-linked companies if they ever fail in politics. The PAP selection process is an obvious failure to filter out politicians who couldnt afford to lose. If Singapore is to go to war, who do you think will take the first plane out of here?

Political opportunists plague the PAP because of the powerful economical links it have with every sector in Singapore. While we stop short of blatant corruptions like China, relationship and strings-pulling way of business is a common practise in government-linked companies. Grassroot leaders are widely known to get contracts through the section community they are serving, despite a tender system which is supposedly to stamp out such practises. The PAP today is not able to convince even its own people that they are doing the country a service because if we were to ban grassroot leaders from getting business contracts from the government, very few would serve. We could see a very quick tumbling of the PAP when Singaporeans vote them out of governance detaching them from the business links they monopolized througout the past decades.

PAP Government remains unapologetic about its immigration policies

Despite receiving its worst election results ever in history coupled with a series of furors due to overpopulation, the PAP Government remains unapologetic with their immigration policies with the Ministry of Trade and Industry(MTI) releasing a “Occasional” strongly recommending continuing the foreign influx [Source].

 

In the report, the MTI never forget to:

1) Propagandize

“Since Independence, we have created good jobs for Singaporeans, kept unemployment low, and raised wages. We have improved our standard of living by investing in education and healthcare, as well as physical infrastructure, such as public housing, transportation and tele-communications networks, through sustained economic development. Strong economic growth averaging 8% per annum since Independence, coupled with prudent fiscal policy, has enabled us to build up our nation’s reserves over
the years.”

 

2) Insult Singaporeans:

“Too much high-skilled foreign manpower may lead to Singaporeans feeling a sense of displacement.”

 

3) Use unproven examples

The Council noted that the key question was not whether Japan should accept migrants, but how it should accept them. A few years
earlier, in June 2008, a group of lawmakers in the ruling LDP had also proposed a plan to accept 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years.

This is particularly interesting because the “ruling” Liberal Democratic Party(LDP) was actually voted out in 2009 Election by the Democratic Party of Japan(DPJ), much to the ignorance of the Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. The group of lawmakers mentioned have all been voted out of governance. Will PAP be voted out like LDP in the end?

 

4) Oversimplify the situation:

 

 

5) and end off simply using rising wages, “good” quality of life and continual access to “good” jobs as carrots demanding Singaporeans to accept more foreigners.

“This will ensure that all Singaporeans, regardless of their skills and
background, can continue to have access to good job opportunities, rising real wages and a higher
quality of life in the future”

 

It is a tragedy the PAP Government has decided to force immigration down Singaporeans’ throats and expect educated Singaporeans to accept their irrational threats of a smaller Singaporean population would have. The MTI report has missed out all the real reasons why the ruling PAP Government wants a larger population. Taxes and votes are what the PAP ultimately are looking for because the large presence of foreigners get to enjoy security and prosperity at the expense of Singaporeans serving National Service.

 

Despite seeing record GDP growth over the years, the amount of social spending on the unemployed, elderly and the vulnerable Singaporeans have not increased proportionately. Instead, we see more millionaire foreigners in Singapore pricing Singaporeans out of their housing and daily expenses, and PAP Ministerial salaries becoming the best-paid in the whole world. This is evident that the kind of growth PAP is championing is not one for Singaporeans, but to further enrich themselves.