Expectations not unrealistic

I refer to the 3 Jun 2014 Straits Times letter “Expectations need to be realistic” by Mr Benjamin Chow Kok Fai.

Mr Chow laments the political challenge of satisfying rising citizen expectations. No Mr Chow, expectations have not risen, standards have fallen instead. Did we ever have such massive, frequent MRT breakdowns? Did we ever have such pricey flats? When was the last time we had such large scale riots?

Mr Chow shares how his generation was grateful for just having a roof over the head and how they regarded taking a trishaw a luxury and retirement a foreigner’s indulgence.

• Singaporeans today are also asking for a flat which is no more than what Mr Chow’s generation had asked for.

• The earlier generation mostly commuted within the immediate neighbourhood. A person today may have to travel long distances from say Punggol to Tuas to work. Does Mr Chow expect today’s generation to commute such long distances on trishaw?

• Did Mr Chow see more old people cleaning tables when he was younger or is he seeing more old people cleaning tables now? Mr Chow only needs to refer to Singapore’s workforce participation rate and the relentless increase in retirement age to know that retirement is more difficult now than it was in the past.

Mr Chow wants Singaporeans to be thankful that Singapore’s provision of everything is more than sufficient to meet basic needs. In that case, what is the government ramping up flat building for? What is the government frantically improving land transport for? Singaporeans are not entitled to owning two flats so the additional flats cannot be for anything other than to meet basic needs. Singaporeans cannot be taking the same bus twice at the same time to go to work so again the additional transport capacity cannot be for anything other than to meet basic needs. So quite obviously, it is because basic needs are not being met that the government is frantically ramping up their provision.

Mr Chow points to living conditions in other countries. Which other countries Mr Chow, Switzerland?

Mr Chow claims that we demand more entitlements but have forgotten how our forefathers lived and how no one owes us a living.

• No Mr Chow, we remember how our forefathers lived because we lived with them as their children or grandchildren. We remember not having mobile phones. Do we thank PAP for mobile phones today? We remember not having computers or the Internet. Do we thank PAP for computers and internet today? We remember having bulky expensive televisions. Do we thank PAP for slim LCD televisions today? We remember consumer goods were expensive. Do we thank PAP for cheap China made products today? We also remember that the family could live on the salary of one parent but today we need both parents to work to sustain household expenses. We also remember watching World Cup for free but not anymore.

• While no one owed Mr Chow’s generation a living, no one restricted their means of making a living either. Mr Chow’s generation could choose to buy their own taxis to become their own bosses instead of working for taxi companies and paying exorbitant rentals. Mr Chow’s generation could choose to sell cooked food by the road side instead of paying exorbitant rental rates of food court stalls today.

Mr Chow wants us to be grateful for what we have before asking others to win us over. Mr Chow should try paying for today’s flat prices and today’s median household expenses with today’s median household income while saving up for ever increasing minimum sum before asking us to be grateful.

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