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PAP’s Quick-Fix Mentality will Exacerbate Singapore’s Econom

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  • tan reborn's Avatar
    153 posts since Dec '09
    • PAP’s Quick-Fix Mentality will Exacerbate Singapore’s Economic Challenges

      December 3, 2009 by admin  
      Filed under Economics, Opinion

      By Kevin Lee

      Earlier this decade, PM Lee Hsien Loong & the PAP faced a problem with Singapore’s population economics. With the country’s fertility rate way below the replacement rate of 2.1, Singaporeans were not making enough babies to replace themselves. The potential burden of this phenomenon was obvious – amongst other issues, the cost of supporting an aging population would have to be borne by a smaller workforce, and the government did not want to have to sustain this liability in the future.

      In order to arrest the problems presented by a resident population failing to replace itself, the PAP has resorted to the quick-fix policy of opening the country’s shores to foreigners. A massive influx of immigrants and foreigners has resulted in the rapid increase of Singapore’s population. Between 2003 and June 2009, the population increased from an estimated 4.2m to 5m, or an increase of 19 per cent in less than a decade.

      While this has, in the short-term, drastically expanded the productive work force, the longer-term impact of the PAP’s immigration policy has been to exacerbate the already challenging living conditions which have discouraged Singaporeans from having children. Directly attributable to the Government’s immigration policy, are two major side-effects which have made it more difficult for Singaporeans to have children.

      Firstly, the cost of living for the majority of Singaporeans has risen. In particular, the escalating cost of housing to unaffordable levels is acting as an obvious hurdle towards family formation. A couple which is unable to afford a roof over their heads will obviously find it very difficult to start a family. After all, the most basic thing parents must provide to their children is a roof over their heads. Yet, instead of bringing down the cost of housing, the combination of a spike in housing demand and stagnation in supply has sent property prices to record levels. (ref. ‘PAP MP blames young couples who cannot get flats for not “planning ahead”’)

      Secondly, labour productivity has declined. Singapore’s labour productivity levels have been falling for six consecutive quarters starting in the fourth quarter of 2007. The decline has been worsening each quarter, with the first three months of 2009 seeing the largest drop so far at minus 14.7 percent. (ref. “National focus needed on efforts to boost labour productivity”, CNA). Singaporeans are working harder and longer and with less to show for it. Naturally, they have less time and money to spend on their children.

      The benefits of productivity on family formation are obvious. Workers who accomplish the same amount of work in shorter periods of time will have more time to spend on their family. Similarly, workers who accomplish more work in the same period of time will be able to earn higher incomes and thus be better able to afford a family. Instead of improving productivity, however, the PAP has chosen an immigration policy which has had a direct impact on this key economic statistic. The large influx of foreign workers in recent years means that each worker doesn’t have to work as hard. It also means that positions are constantly being filled by newbies without experience.  (read article here)

      The combined effect of housing price inflation and the decline in labour productivity has been to make the real cost of bringing up a child even more expensive, and thus further discourage couples from having children. Meanwhile, little attention is being paid to initiatives which can make a genuine impact on the standard of living.

      The solution to the housing affordability problem is simple. Either supply more flats or decrease the demand. The lack of proper planning by the PAP on this issue is quite perplexing, but this issue has been dealt with by other writers and I will not repeat their arguments here. (read article here)

      The deeper problem is that of labour productivity.

      An improvement in labour productivity does not only require the education & upgrading of the workforce, but a fundamental change in mentality of employers from a low-cost of labour mentality to a higher value-added mentality. Meanwhile, it seems that the only solution that the PAP has to throw at the productivity problem is to point the finger at workers for not upgrading themselves.

      While skills upgrading is part of the solution, it is only one side of the productivity equation. Just as important is paying attention to improving the working conditions of employees and protecting workers’ rights. Employers in Singapore blame Singaporeans for shunning so-called ‘menial’ or ‘unskilled’ jobs, yet the only solution they seem to have is to throw cheap foreign labour into these jobs such as construction or frontline retail services. The tougher but more rewarding option of professionalising and dignifying such jobs is thrown to the wayside.

      Contrary to what some may think, a career in construction can be a meaningful, dignified one. A construction worker who takes pride in his technical work and who has accumulated experience will certainly be much more productive than a cheap foreign import. When given the right tools and proper working conditions, his higher productivity will also justify a much more respectable salary than the pittance that is currently paid in the industry. Yet, keeping wages low and working conditions poor is a surefire way to make the job disrespectable, and for companies to lose their top performers. 

      Similarly, frontline sales staff in retail can make a significant difference to the bottom line if they are well trained, respectably paid, and given good working conditions. Conversely, untrained foreigners who do not even speak the language of business, are obviously unable to add significant value to a retail operation and sometimes even turn away prospective sales. (read article here)

      In spite of this simple logic, the government’s immigration policy continues to foster a low-cost mentality rather than a value-added mentality by allowing local businesses to import cheap labour, which only serves to keep wages depressed and working conditions lousy. To be fair, enterprises are also to blame for perpetuating their low-cost mentality. But if nobody makes an effort, how will things ever improve?

      Labour productivity also improves with innovation & entrepreneurship. A significant improvement in manufacturing techniques can allow a factory to dramatically increase its output given the same number of workers. Meanwhile, technological innovations in engineering or computing allow the formations of new enterprises and the creation of value-added jobs. Yet, the government continues to pursue policies which encourage an iron-rice bowl mentality rather than bold enterprise.

      In particular, the scholarship system encourages Singapore’s brightest students to pursue a safe (bonded) career in government rather than one in the private sector. It systematically sucks out the brightest minds from innovating in the marketplace, into the ranks of the public service. Instead of finding solutions to scientific problems, bringing new products to market or searching for a cure for cancer, Singapore’s top young brains are writing policy papers and goodness knows what else, in ’silent resentment and ultimate dissatisfaction’.

      The PAP argues that the government needs top brains in order to run efficiently and effectively. Yet, the stark reality is that entrepreneurs and innovators such as Olivia Lum, Sim Wong Hoo and Ron Sim have individually created many more jobs for Singaporeans than any government scholar or bureaucrat. Is it no wonder, then, that leaders such as S. Dhanabalan and DPM Jayakumar (ref. “Jayakumar wants Singapore top students to study in local varsities”) have recently lamented that allowing top students to go overseas is a bad thing? And, while it may appear that the government is unrolling campaigns encouraging entrepreneurship in schools, such campaigns are but lip service when millions of dollars continue to be thrown at scholarships designed to suck youngsters into government ranks.

      The recent housing pains and productivity drops are symptomatic of a quick-fix mentality that can ultimately only exacerbate Singapore’s population and economic problems, rather than alleviate them. Until fundamental, structural issues in Singapore’s economy are tackled head-on, Singapore will continue to see its fertility rate remain low and its productivity (and competitiveness) slide. At the end of the day, the PAP cannot continue to pump more and more immigrants onto this little island. Sooner or later, Singaporeans need to find a way to return their fertility rate to replacement levels, and make the cost of family formation affordable. Singapore will need to find a way to foster genuine innovation and entrepreneurship and to improve worker productivity.

      So far, the PAP doesn’t seem to be doing very well in coming up with the right solutions.

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  • Fantagf's Avatar
    17,292 posts since Jun '08
    • I doubt they care much about providing right solutions.    Seems they focus more on money making out of the people of Singapore more than anything.  Even to this day -  in the midst of the worst recession they have gone ahead to increase the property tax for HDB flats.

      It all boils down to whether a political party is in for placing serving the nation as top priority or not.   

  • zenden9's Avatar
    1,221 posts since Nov '03
    • Such solution need a million dollar minister to come up with meh?

      Get a Tom, dick,harry can also easily think of liao.

      Singapore is always like that. Can only think of quick fix and short term solution.

      And it all boils down to PAP way of shaping Singapore.

  • Lionnosy's Avatar
    118 posts since Nov '09
    • This self-interest MIW Government is a hopeless case.

      Their brains got short-circuited when they awarded themselves Million Dollar salaries.

      Bending their arses to foreigners give them more rewards / satisfaction than doing a proper job of solving the country's problems or looking into the plights of their own citizens. 

      FWs / FTs / PRs = High GDP growth = Performance bonus on top of their own Million Dollar salaries. 

      To hell with it even if Singaporean workers loose their jobs, salaries remain stagnant, cost of living goes up, property prices approaching bubble-bursting levels and more PRs owning HDB apartments.   

      The PAP Ministers run the most heartless, insensitive and money-mad Government in the world, and they seem to be extremely proud of it.

  • charlize's Avatar
    31,782 posts since Mar '05
    • Originally posted by zenden9:

      Such solution need a million dollar minister to come up with meh?

      Get a Tom, dick,harry can also easily think of liao.

      Singapore is always like that. Can only think of quick fix and short term solution.

      And it all boils down to PAP way of shaping Singapore.

      5 - 10 years later, most of these ministers would have retired or stepped down from office already.

       

      You think they care who gets to clean up the mess in the future? icon_lol.gif

  • noahnoah's Avatar
    8,046 posts since May '06
    •  

      ALl the left over mess will be clear up

      by us .We, the non elites?

      Edited by noahnoah 03 Dec `09, 3:00PM
  • the Bear's Avatar
    149,694 posts since Feb '01
    • Originally posted by charlize:

      5 - 10 years later, most of these ministers would have retired or stepped down from office already.

       

      You think they care who gets to clean up the mess in the future? icon_lol.gif


      sounds like GW Bush doesn't it?

      but then, hey.. politics is probably derived from this:

      poli = poly = many
      tics = ticks = blood sucking parasites

      teeth.png

  • M.M Robert Mugabe Lee's Avatar
    4 posts since Dec '09
    •  

      Economic Challenges to Singapore ??

      Quick fix ??

      Slow fix ??

      Don't put too much hope on it

      The MIW Government are better at fixing their Political Opponents  Icon_twisted Icon_twisted Icon_twisted

  • Fantagf's Avatar
    17,292 posts since Jun '08
    • Originally posted by M.M Robert Mugabe Lee:

       

      Economic Challenges to Singapore ??

      Quick fix ??

      Slow fix ??

      Don't put too much hope on it

      The MIW Government are better at fixing their Political Opponents  Icon_twisted Icon_twisted Icon_twisted

      Of course, of course.   Fixing their political opponents =  making money

      They are in for money making as top priority.

      hahahah    icon_mrgreen.gif

       

  • Eiizumi's Avatar
    1,183 posts since Jan '03
    • Well, I believe they have already forgotten about the people.

      I believe the people of Singapore wanted fulfilling lives which cannot be measured by just economic progress alone.

      Yes, we still need foreign invested to stay interested in Singapore but as long as the government forgets to take care of basic social needs like helping families to grow and ultimately contributing to the society.

      That's long term. I do not think it will kill Singaporeans that we might slow down abit for some years because we're making babies, and when that time when all the youger generations mature, our fruits will labour!

      If our education system isn't working for youngsters to teach them to contribute, then its the government's indirect fault.

      Who made the parents so busy anyway, just to work up to the high cost of living, just to survive in this dragonian society?

      Everytime they came up with a bill/act, yes, it made sense that the bill/act is the way for Singapore to go but why are the details and processes so messed up? Is it because our dear cabinet ministers always left the work to civil servant to creative figure out everything on their own while they went on entertaining their supporters, and when it all got wrong, they point finger at those poor civil servants who are also just doing their job or did not do their job well enough?

      More and more, I felt that their leadership has failed again and again.

      Mas Selamat's escape? Geylang Serai food poisoning? Institutions' investments failures?

      And again and again, MPs who are suppose to be representatives of the constituents, are they even listening to the people as a whole? So when people who go against them are to be ignored, or worse, slap them back telling them, its your own problem?

      Wow?

      MPs should be questioning what the cabinet is doing, not the other way around.

  • Arapahoe's Avatar
    7,075 posts since Jan '07
    • Originally posted by Fantagf:

      I doubt they care much about providing right solutions.    Seems they focus more on money making out of the people of Singapore more than anything.  Even to this day -  in the midst of the worst recession they have gone ahead to increase the property tax for HDB flats.

      It all boils down to whether a political party is in for placing serving the nation as top priority or not.   

      ha ha just like bringing in immigrant than spend 10 million dollar to intergrate...

  • Fantagf's Avatar
    17,292 posts since Jun '08
    • Originally posted by Arapahoe:

      ha ha just like bringing in immigrant than spend 10 million dollar to intergrate...


      yah, hahhah.     They spend and do whatever that suit them and just treat all of us invisible.   

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