Poverty in Singapore from a personal experience

I grew up in poverty, my father was a delivery driver (even today) and my mother was a cleaner working 2 shifts from 630am to 11pm in two coffeeshop. I stopped taking allowance and started working part time at Macdonalds when I was in secondary 2. Every holiday was a good day to my family as we would be getting overtime for working in the holidays. My parents and I were working close to 365 days a year because there is no annual leave, no medical benefits and no bonuses even for full timers. Because of our poverty and the exploitative working culture in Singapore, we have become workaholics.

Even though we have been working hard everyday for the past 12 years, we see no light in the tunnel. My father is still a delivery driver in the same company drawing the same $1.2K a month as he had for the past 10 years. He is 62 but he has barely 60K only in his CPF after he made his 50% withdrawal when he was 55. Retirement is impossible for him because the CPF life payout worked out to be less than $355 a month for him. My mother has been a cleaner all her life, and because some cleaning contractors do not pay CPF, her retirement account is even more pathetic, at about $20k. And the CPF Life monthly payout? Maximum $169 a month. We sold off our 3A room flat a few years ago to pay for my mother’s cancer treatment (Singapore hospitals are just a little short of being loan sharks. They will keep calling and pestering and then they will get a private debt collector company to press you for payment) and now live in a 3NG room flat in Whampoa.

Throughout these years, we received no help from the PAP in school fees, cash or food because our household income was at about $3k a month (including the part waitering I was drawing), barely above the minimum requirement for social assistance. I remembered my mother told me she ever seek help from the government but the case officer told her that as each of us has a handphone and we live in a 3 room flat, we were too “rich” to qualify. It appears, to get assistance in Singapore, you have to be wearing rags, scraping the barrels and collecting tin cans for a living.

Right after my National Service, all of my richer friends get into universities for degrees or diplomas for some. I had zero savings from the pathetic $400 pay I get during NS. I couldn’t even feed myself then and thinking about a degree was really out of the world.

A year later I quitted my $1.8k project engineer job and worked in the insurance industry. There I met many high net worth prospects (I cold-call 12 hours a day from 10am to 10pm everyday whenever I am not on appointment) and clients and the true state of Singapore society dawned unto me. Meritocracy is non-existent in Singapore. Hard working people are paid the lowest and the rich people are not even clocking in a fraction of the poor’s contribution. They simply live off interests, dividends and for some, an autopilot business. The PAP gives them 0% GST on gold, 0% capital gains tax, 0% dividends tax, no Minimum Wage, high quota for cheap foreign labor and as a result their cash reserves appreciate easily by the double digit percentage every year. On the other hand in the very same year, my poor dad was still drawing his $1.2k salary as he had for the past 10 years. This phenomenon of the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer is a result of PAP’s capitalistic policies.

The message is clear: there is no incentive for hard work in an overtly capitalistic system. No matter how hard you work, you will be merely scrapping by. It is through seeing such adverse inequality that fired me up to oppose the PAP relentlessly over the years. Ending the poverty cycle for Singaporeans is very hard to achieve because a political change is near-impossible with the incredibly high number of stupid Singaporeans who know nothing about the negative impact of PAP policies. I have equal hatred for PAP supporters as I have for the PAP. They seriously deserve a big fuck you from the poor people in Singapore.

I could however end the poverty cycle for my family through emigration. I am a project manager now, armed with a few industry certifications (I think it would be appropriate to call myself a local talent because my foreign colleagues would be Q1 E pass holders in the same industry) and I’m completing my degree’s final exams in a week’s time. My wife and I have been saving up well and we are preparing to fly. We have no intention of buying a HDB here which will laden me with a 30 year long debt. We did not even have a wedding here because it costs easily at least over $10K. And a kid is going to set us back $200K over 20 years. I have done all the calculations and comparisons. In Singapore, we know the price of every thing and the value of nothing. Home ownership and family planning are supposed to be life’s happy events. But in Singapore, these are expensive activities I couldn’t afford. Just like Christmas and New Year, they are supposed to be days of joyous celebrations but to my family, they are days we earn double or 1.5 pay. Whenever there is a wedding or birthday, I will start worrying about the hongbao money or how much am I going to spend on the present.  It is impossible to be happy in Singapore when every thing is so expensive and your pay is so low. It is such constant reminders of financial constraints that makes me hate Singapore so much.

The reason for leaving is both economical and political. Have Singapore been a free country, my favorite tagline would be “fuck you corrupted traitors”. But we know these mofos love defamation suits and we know how oppressing it is when you cannot call a corruption corrupt. It is unbearing having to live in a country with leaders you hate so much.

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