Be grateful, S’pore

I am writing to reflect my thoughts on the letter written by the Canadian Mr. Eric J. Brooks to the Straits Times forum on 31 Jul 2009.

Eric gave thanks to the Singapore govt for its years of budget surpluses that allowed Singapore to use more money than any other country to tide over this difficult time. Eric should also mention that much of the budget surplus comes from squeezing our people in the form of stupendously expensive public housing, COEs, ERPs and many other money making monopolies that the govt has kept for itself.

Eric forgot to mention that all the East Asian nations were able to inject sizeable funds to boost their respective national economies so budget surpluses isn’t a peculiarly Singaporean trait, it is an East Asian trait. If the property market is any measure of market exuberance, I believe it is China and Hong Kong that is recovering faster than Singapore. A recent snapshot of the STI trend together with the Hang Sheng trend showed almost identical rebounding. So again there is no strong evidence to indicate that Singapore is head and shoulders above its other East Asian counterparts. There is no rationale for exceptional exuberance as exhibited by Eric.

Eric laments that in Toronto, rubbish is only collected once a week. Once again, Eric is comparing a Western city with an East Asian city. Eric should try comparing Singapore with Hong Kong or any Japanese or Korean city. He will find that rubbish collection is not such a big deal in any East Asian city.

Eric laments that rubbish collection in the US and Canada is expensive. That is not surprising considering that these are sprawling countries with so much more ground to cover. The alternative would be to squeeze the whole of the United States and Canada into dots as tiny as Singapore. That would be most preposterous.

Most buildings in the US and Canada have no sheltered walkways because most Americans and Canadians don’t have to walk hundreds of metres to take public transportation. They just step into their driveways to get into their cars. Yes, we do not have people freezing to death here in Singapore as they do in US or Canada. But do we thank our govt for that? Or do we thank Sir Stamford Raffles for founding us right smack at the Equator?

Most North American cities are cutting public transportation because more can afford their own cars. Singapore is adding new MRT lines because the population is exploding yet they are restricting the quota of cars.

A person in the US or Canada seldom has a need for a lift, because many of them stay in bungalows which to them are just ordinary houses. Here in Singapore, our houses have all been stacked high up into the sky. So taking the lift is not a privilege, it is a necessity stemming from us being stacked high up into the sky. It is about time that lifts stop at every floor, because we are not like the US or Canada where you can just step out of the house and into your car.

If a person cannot pay the mortage for his HDB, his flat would be repossessed and he would end up having to move to a rental flat instead. So there is really no difference between here or the US or Canada. You pay for your property or you get out. They even cut off your electricity regardless of whether you are in the midst of bathing at night.

Eric should spend some time living and working in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Then, he would find that whether it is Singapore or otherwise, there is no country that takes care of its people any more than its people takes care of its country.

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One Response to “Be grateful, S’pore”

  1. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 4 Aug 2009 Says:

    […] Strangers in a Strange Land – Yours Truly Singapore: Yours Truly Singapore […]

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