Why is Singapore not livable

IMG_0002IMG_0001My father came home last night and asked me about a letter from CPF notifying about some Medishield changes. Although he is English educated, he doesn’t understand what a “deductible” is or the difference between Medisave and Medishield. Many Singaporeans like him who are too busy to be reading the news often left themselves out of such new “kangtaos” by the PAP government. Nonetheless I went on to explain what the letter is all about, as neutral as I could…because I could expect he wouldn’t like what he’s hearing as he is a hardcore Workers’ Party supporter.
There are only 2 key changes which we need to focus on:

1) Medishield deductibles is going to increase from $1000 to $1500, and $1500 to $2000 respectively for Class C and Class B wards. For those who doesn’t know what is a deductible, you could look at the diagram on the right. A patient has to pay the deductible and 10% of the remaining of bill with the remaining 90% covered for by the Medishield. The Medishield is a nationalized co-insurance scheme that is paid for using Medisave funds.


Effectively, those staying in Class C wards, or simply put in, the poor, are going to pay 50% or $500 more each time they are warded into hospitals. I don’t know why this is under the “Major Enhancement” category in the letter when you get to pay more instead.

2) Medishield premium is going to increase by $102.50 effective from March 2013, but the government is going to give you a One-off Medisave Top-up to help off-set the premium increase of $300. The maths is not right yes. The top-up can hardly cover for 3 years of the premium increase, and this is as good as raising the premium in 3 years’ time.

This implementation brought up a few questions left unanswered by the PAP government:

Why  aren’t those warded in the class A and B get to pay more? Why are we subsidizing the rich and taxing those who need more help?

Where is the justification for the premium increase? Where is the annual report? How do we know if the Medishield is making losses(if any) and how do we know if the PAP government is not profiting from the Medishield unethically if no audit report is declared publicly?

And why are the CPF account holders not informed of such changes? Who are the decision makers and who drafted these policies?

There are too many questions surrounding the CPF which makes it look like a ponzi scheme to many. If Christopher Balding’s figures are right [Source], the CPF could be bankrupt and people may not know what hit them. The slew of CPF changes introduced especially in the past decade under Lee Hsien Loong’s watch is very worrying. Minimum Sum has been raised every year and Withdrawal Age has also been increased significantly from 55 to 67. These are signs that the CPF is facing a cash flow problem and may not be able to cater for the retirement for baby boomers like my father’s generation. I’m not at all surprised why we are seeing more elderly touting or literally begging and eating leftovers in our hawker centres.

The CPF changes above is one of the many little twitches the PAP made to squeeze a little more out of here and there. The real reason why Singapore is no longer livable is because the present PAP Ministers simply have no heart for Singaporeans who slogged their life out for this country. Gone are the days of a nanny state where people could have blind faith in the PAP government to act for their best interests. We just have to look objectively at what the PAP do and not what they say. The standard of living for their Ministers and MPs have increased significantly over the past few years, along with the rich foreigners and employers. Middle and low income earners like me sees a harsher life, always tightening our wallets wherever we go. Social mobility has reach a standstill in Singapore, it is hard to even maintain a decent standard of living seen in the 1990s today if you are just an employee…and I do not want to go even further how my family could even live decently on a driver’s income back in the 1980s.

The bosses squeeze you dry and are always happy to hire a foreigner in your place. Employers are telling everyone they are expanding their business but they have no budget to pay for higher salaries. The culture of poor human resource has led to fatigue, poor purchasing power and naturally a loss of work-life balance. I do not want to spend my life working hard for my bosses to get rich while myself having to struggle paycheck to paycheck. The working conditions in overseas are very attractive relative to Singapore, because a 9-to-6, 5-day work week is simply not possible here in Singapore. I have lost counts of the amount of overtime I worked without overtime pay. I don’t see so many of the elderly in other countries struggling to etch a living on the streets, but in Singapore, it is very common to see elderly in their 60s and 70s working menial low paying jobs. What has Singapore got to offer? The country couldn’t even take care of me while I risk a limb serving National Service. Emigration no longer seems like an option if I do not want to wipe tables in my twilight years.

The PAP government’s policies are so easily deciphered from a common man-in-the-street like me, and all these just makes me sick to my stomach. They never fail to come out with fancy explanations to their incompetency after any fiasco. The worst case scenario of an inefficient and incompetent government in power and looking to stay in power had happened. What an irony for Lee Kuan Yew that such incompetence he warned many years ago actually turns out to be one from his own.

Alex Tan, co-editor of Wikitemasek


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