Friday, 1 March 2013

Open letter to PM Lee: Cries and beggings from die hard PAP voters

1st March 2013

Open Letter to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Dear Mr. Lee,

This is a joint letter by 4 life-long friends who are in our 50s and 60s. After speaking to many colleagues, friends, and family, it saddens us to know that most fellow Singaporeans share similar grave concerns. In case you are wondering, none of the 4 of us have ever voted for the workers party, let alone affiliated to any political parties. Amongst the 4 of us, 2 of us are PAP voters, one has never voted as he lived in Tanjong Pagar, and another had always voted the "anything but PAP".

We beg you to fix things before its too late. Our children are now either in the workforce or freshly graduated, and they are at risk of abandoning the country for greener pastures.

Back in school, they were so full of with youthful dreams and brimming with ambition; telling us how they want to be what they want to be, and what they want to do when they become adults. It was a priceless joy that any parent could wish for to see their sons and daughter excited about living. What we did not expect is how the Singapore we built has left them feeling bleak about their future. Those sparkles of joy they had in their eyes were not seen much over that 6 years.

Our younger generation have been facing a terribly harsh job market for the last 6 years, flooded with hungry and desperate foreign PMETs willing to accept lower salaries. This resulted in salaries to be not much differebr from 10 years ago. Wage increment has not keep up with unbelievable rate of inflation over the last 6 years.In the private sector, fresh graduates are lucky if they can get anything above $3,300 right out of school while the poly and ITE graduates start with $1,500 to 2,300.

Those new in the workforce for 3 to 8 years, have no shortcuts in life and are subjected to climb up through usual career progression paths. With salaries just slightly 10 years ago, they have been finding it hard to keep up with the accelerated "economic progress". The price levels in Singapore has soared beyond comprehension in the past 6 years.

It is unbelievable how Singaporeans have been pay such amounts for non-luxury items items like:

$700 to 1,200 monthly child care fees without subsidies

$3,000 to $9,000 to give birth to a child in a hospital

$150k to own a bloody Toyota Corolla for 10 years (excl. insurance and road tax)

$300k to $1.1 million to lease a pre-owned "subsidised" government housing apartment for

$300k to $1.1 million to lease a pre-owned "subsidised" government housing apartment for

$1 million at least for the smallest studio apartments by private developed freehold housing

$192k annually for someone who is supposed to speak up for them in parliament

And of course, $2.2 million before bonuses annually for a Prime minister (after a 36% discount)

The items listed above have never been out of reach for median-income Singaporeans in our time, but are now seemingly unaffordable for our children.

Wage increment has not kept up with unbelievable rate of inflation over the last 6 years. It is sad many of their aspiration is now measured in dollars, as they find it hard to cope as a young parent. Are even driven to moonlight just to to supplement their day job. Doesn't it hurt you that to know some of our sons have chosen to driving taxis at in their early 30s? It pains to see us young Singaporeans make such a choice due to mid-junior management jobs pay lesser than what a taxi driver can earn.

Many made the choice to give up their dreams for utilitarian approach to life, taking up jobs which they had never desired. Are even driven to moonlight just to to supplement their day job. It pains us to see our childrens' aspiration reduced to one that is now measured in dollars Doesn't it hurt you that to know some of our sons have chosen to driving taxis at in their early 30s?

It is worrying that some young Singaporeans make such a choice simply because mid-junior management wages are lower a taxi driver's potential income. This cash and time poor generation can no longer afford to socialise, procreate normally, after putting in an average of more than 10-14 hours daily at work. They have been working hard to the extend of neglecting their social life beyond human work-life balance. You resort to interfering by setting up programmes to urge the them to paktor, nag them incessantly to get married and offer them angbao money to make babies. Recently, you even had to implement for them priority queues to the normal skip 2-3 year long wait to get a flat if they start a family early. The saddest part is, these the dollars earned depreciate so quickly in real value due to our country's crazy raise in price levels in property, car ownership and our daily daily needs.

We have already nagged enough at them to get married and settle down early. They feedback to us: paktor is expensive, getting married is expensive. To prevent them from going down the road of being old bachelors or spinsters, some of us even give our children hundreds of thousand to buy a house just because the prices are simply out of reach for them. Many of them have to take up 20 to 50 year just to purchase a hdb flat. Back in our days, a 25 year loan was already quite ridiculous to us.

On top of the financial strain they have, they have to bear with a transport policy which makes driving a luxury in Singapore. Those who cannot afford driving has to failing public transport system which causes them to be late for work on a monthly, or at worse, fortnightly basis. The packed train stations and carriages, the increasing foreign, unfamiliar and unfriendly sounding / looking environment adds more emotional strains to their daily material worries.

Can you recall just barely a decade ago, Singaporeans could easily live the typical Singaporean dream of the 5Cs was within reach for families with more than $10,000 of combined income. Life was good for a family earning more than $5,000, and comfortable for those earning $2,500 a month. Unfortunate low-income families earning less than $ 1,250 could still get by and survive. What about now?

Its sad to see our country regress from the first world we have built. For them to have an equivilant quality of life to what we have has become so unaffordable that it is out of reach, let alone wish for a better. The government should stand back and take a look how much have exactly have the people really progressed / regressed as a nation in the last decade.

It is the truth that national economic progress favouring the cash and asset rich have outpaced the large majority of us. This is due to the majority being outpaced by widening gap of rich-poor. The luckier ones among us with well-to-do parents have gone on to become multi-millionaires due leveraging on property prices while most of us made our comfortable Singapore dreams come true lives with our own hands.

In a reflection of the harsh reality our children are facing, majority of Singaporeans are already unhappy with the government as of early 2012. Of the 2,000 Singaporeans it surveyed, Mindshare found 56% chose agreed or strongly agreed that, “given a choice, I would like to migrate”.

62% of those polled believe that our political leaders are paid too much these days.

65% think they will not be able to retire comfortably in Singapore.

72% think they cannot afford to get sick these days due to high medical costs.

73% think that public housing prices are getting out of hand.

75% think they should not be spending their entire working life paying off housing loans.

69% believe there are too many foreign workers taking up job opportunities in our society today

73% believe that Singaporeans should be granted priority in employment.

On our end, our parents are nearing the the final chapters of their lives, medical care and the cost of living been rising and is already not easy for even for the many of us who earn a good income. What about the lower income earners?

All we really want to retire happily in peace, play with our grandchildren, educate them and enjoy the home we have built with our family right here in Singapore. We have been working hard over the last 30-40 years and it is only fair for us to demand this. We believe in the potential of our children and they are perfectly capable of taking care of us when we are old. It baffling for you suggested that we need to bring in foreigners to take care of of us.

The rationale of Singapore being an immigrant society is already long passé. Indeed, our parents were immigrants; but they have worked hard to urbanise the whole island of Singapore and brought to its peak in 2006/2007. To suggest otherwise would be completely rude and ridiculous.

The fact that our young generation has a bleak outlook even before they hit their prime is disheatening. We beg you not to let the wonderful things that Singapore gave us disappear in regression. We need a country our children can enjoy life like how we did after working so hard for it. It pains to watch our younger generation struggle in last 6 years at the home we have built for them. It will be too much to bear to see them leave our home for a better opportunities in life elsewhere.

Tolong tolong: Please don't drive our children out of Singapore.

Yours sincerely,

"Made-in-Singapore" Singaporeans
Tan Ah Kow . Minah Binte Said . Muthu Veerasamy . Veronica Simons De Souza

IMPORTANT NOTE: Other than our obvious psuedonyms. All contents of the letter is factual, true and researched. A simple search online would verify.

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