The Population White Paper: Singapore - a Home for Money

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The Singapore government has always been saying that we need foreign workers to do jobs that Singaporeans don't want to do. But what about jobs that Singaporeans want to do?

At a recent Social Policies Forum 2013: Income Inequality (organised by the NUS Political Association and Tembusu College), an experienced doctor asked Mr Vikram Nair, Member of Parliament, Sembawang GRC about this. This doctor has advised his students to be really filial to their parents because it's unlikely that they'd be able to afford their housing any time soon. In his time, housing was affordable. But now, doctors can be imported from neighbouring countries and this has led to a wage suppression. Housing is no longer that affordable. Importing foreign doctors is the easiest and quickest route to meet the needs of a burgeoning population. But what about those bright, ambitious Singaporeans who want to practise medicine?

Another engineer came back to NUS to study a Masters degree. She loves being an engineer and would want to work as an engineer. But the competition from foreign engineers is fierce. Why would her company give her a wage increase if it could hire 3 more foreign engineers who're willing to settle for less?

This lady engineer made another interesting point: there're probably Singaporeans who'd love to work in the service industry - an industry often cited by the government that Singaporeans avoid. But they can't afford to work in that industry because they can't survive on the salaries it offer.

Foreigners have been brought in and, yes, sometimes they work at jobs that Singaporeans are disinclined to. But it's also true that they compete with Singaporeans for jobs that they want to.

Discussion thread available at: The Kent Ridge Common
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Dr Petunia Lee paints a frightening - and all too plausible - future for an overcrowded Singapore.

Our transport, mail and education systems increasingly pivot about making more profits. These public systems are no longer about serving the public; they're about making more money from the public.

Our best youths will go abroad because they're wanted there and the quality of life is better. For example, 4 terrace houses in Sheffield, England cost as much as one - only one - terrace house in Singapore. The food prices are surprisingly more affordable.

Older folks would not want to retire in Singapore. Why would they? They can have a higher quality of life elsewhere on a lower budget. They can sustain longer on their limited resources.

Foreign workers would want to come to Singapore. Our country treats them really nicely (as it should). The problems develop when Singapore doesn't treat her own people as nicely.

Would Singapore merely be a place like all other global cities? Will it welcome transient people with transient affections with open arms, while stacking the cards against her own citizens?
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The scenario that Dr Lee paints is all the more frightening because there're people around me already planning for a future that does not involve Singapore. Young friends seeking greener pastures. Older uncles seeking serene meadows.

My uncle, for example. He intends to retire in Thailand. Rent out his home in Singapore, collect monthly rentals and live out a life of comfort with his wife and adopted Thai daughter.  

Like other friends, I'm increasingly tempted by the allures of living overseas. Although it has only been a week in England, I feel peace, a kind of peace that I've not felt for a good long time in Singapore. 

Our country moves at a relentless tempo. I couldn't slow down to observe the bougainvilleas without feeling guilty, without feeling that I ought to be spending my time more productively. Slowing down seems like a luxury.

Our country has been increasingly constructed to be a cathedral to businesses, to GDP, to money and economy. It pivots about dollars, not people.

Make no mistake, I'm thankful for the opportunities that Singapore has offered. I love Singapore, but I'm no longer sure if Singapore loves me.
Chilled by the latest White Paper on Population
by the Sg government.

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