Much to thank for beyond the last 50 years

I refer to the 6 Mar 2014 Straits Times letter “Much we can be thankful for” by Mr Patrick Liew [1]. Mr Liew purported to put things into perspective by merely parroting the state’s and its media’s claim that the EIU report relates more to expatriate lifestyle. The EIU Worldwide Cost of Living 2014 report compared more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services including food, drink, household supplies and personal care items. The state media listed only a handful of the hundreds of EIU items and from that handful Mr Liew concluded that the EIU items relate more to expatriate lifestyle without considering the hundreds of other items not listed.

Mr Liew expressed his thanks for not facing congestion problems in many developed cities. But Singaporeans face many congestion problems even though they may not be reported. Many major roads are congested even during non-peak hours or on Saturdays. During peak periods, the congestions can be nightmarish.

Mr Liew also expressed thanks for the regulation of our property market without considering that it came only after an election setback. That being the case, it was ultimately the votes of the people that regulated our property market.

Mr Liew said we will be better off in Singapore compared to many developed cities if we lived simply. But if we have to live simply in Singapore to be better off but don’t have to live simply to be better off in other developed cities, doesn’t that show that we are actually worse off instead?

Mr Liew claimed our economy is better off than other developed countries because there are plenty of jobs and that our tax rates are amongst the lowest. But the plenty of jobs we have are low paying jobs that cannot support the quality of life found in other developed countries. What good is it for a country to have plenty of low paying jobs that only provides the barest living sustenance? Our low tax rates give us nothing in our old age and nothing when we fall sick.

Most developed countries are safe, not just Singapore. Otherwise, people in those countries would be flocking to Singapore instead of the other way around wouldn’t it? The government would not have to start campaigns to encourage Singaporeans overseas to come back would it?

Our country is a model mostly for Third World or communist countries. It is hardly a model for developed countries. While we have done well for a country with no natural resources, practically all developed countries have done well with little or no natural resources.

Mr Liew is wrong to say that it took us less than 50 years to build our city state. Many important institutions and buildings were put in place more than 50 years ago. Our running water began during colonial times with the generous donation by Mr Tan Kim Seng. Our police force began during colonial times. KK Hospital where most Singaporeans were born began during colonial times. Many good schools that nurtured generations of leaders for Singapore were founded during colonial times. Our most precious heritage buildings were built during colonial times.

There is so much to thank for beyond the last 50 years. Without the years that came before the last 50 years, there would have been no last 50 years.

[1] Straits Times, Much we can be thankful for, 6 Mar 2014

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