Population White Paper is unpopular and unsustainable

Population White Paper is unpopular and unsustainable

I have yet to read an online commentary that is receptive to the Population White Paper. Most don’t even get past the dreadful 6.9 million figure. While the government tries to convince us of this need for further population explosion and explain how this can be managed with an expanded rail network, new housing estates and more green spaces, nobody is listening because we lapse into an uncontrollable fit when any mention of an increase is brought up. Our leaders may regard the negativity as irrational and what they are proposing as inconvenient but unavoidable, but we should ask if…

Fair and equitable

What makes a fair wage?

As they say, a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. But what exactly constitute a fair wage? At the most fundamental level, a fair wage is one that, in exchange for, a worker willingly provides a service to an employer, and that the employer willingly compensates the worker for this service it is receiving. It is simple demand and supply coming together in the labour market where neither party is coerced into entering such a contract of service. In the financial markets, we call this price discovery. In a closed labour market, wages should adjust to reflect the…

"An email from Void Decker!"

It’s not slower growth, stupid!

Dear Vivi, Long time no hear! Having fun immersing yourself in your current job as Environment and Water Resources Minister? I was so happy to see you in the news yesterday. It’s always good as a politician to keep your profile up despite your literally shitty portfolio. Remember, visibility is key! For bloggers, it’s easy because they can just write some silly things to make fun of the government. Politicians, on the other hand, are supposed to be wise. I’m glad you have used the old trick of looking clever by repeating the party mantra when you actually have nothing of value…

"But the gap is only this wide"

Renewed call for wage shock therapy

It looks like Lim Chong Yah is not one to back down easily. Given his prominent status as founding chairman of NWC, architect of the previous wage shock therapy, and the first and only Emeritus Professor of both NUS and NTU, can the government continue to ignore him? When Prof Lim first called for a repeat of wage shock therapy in April this year, both PM Lee Hsien Loong and NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say publicly dismissed the proposal in the space of two weeks. There was no effort at all to engage him, to hear out his views in…

Keeping up to date on voiddecker.com

Have you been reading this, Minister Tan?

The Singapore government has long taken pride in being firm to stick to what it thinks is right, rather than what’s in favour. Having to admit openly to heeding public opinion makers and the general populace is a hard pill to swallow, especially when the stance it once championed is proven wrong. So when there are calls for policy changes, be it from experts, think tanks, opposition parties or ordinary Singaporeans, the government’s instinctive reaction is to dismiss the calls. Ministers and PAP MPs will caution us with doomsday scenarios. Right on cue, the local press will publish reports quoting…

(click to see full size)

A Singaporean society anchored by values

From Channel NewsAsia: (Mr Lawrence Wong) also noted that many Singaporeans are talking about the kind of values they would like to have for the future. “In all the conversations I’ve attended, the issue of values comes out quite a lot,” said Mr Wong. “Many Singaporeans do talk about them, desiring to have a society that’s anchored by values… people (want) a kinder (and) a more gracious society.”

Permission to speak, sir!

Permission to speak, sir!

Singaporeans live in a controlled environment. Most of us go about minding our own business without thinking much of it. Spare a thought, however, for our civil servants and journalists dying to speak out, especially those who endured a 30-40 year career to do so. New guidelines from a Public Service Division circular last week have lifted the gag order on civil servants so that they can take part in the national conversation. The PSD said this is “in the spirit of the (Our SG Conversation)”, so that civil servants can “engage in meaningful discussions on most government policies and share their…

Found in our government cabinet

Dialogue or broken record session?

To all of you who worry about overpopulation and diminishing quality of life as a result of it, rest assured that your concern is very much well founded and the problem is only going to get worse. To know why, look no further that who is in charge of population policies in our government: DPM Teo Chee ‘What do you think?’ Hean, Minister of Thought Process Delegation. In a town hall session on population challenges held last week, DPM Teo enlightened us with an opening speech that was revealing in its own way, for it confirmed our doubt that he…

Application rates for 2-room flats in the SBF (Data: HDB)

The unwanted HDB 2-room flats

The table above shows the application rates for 2-room flats for both the September and March sale of balance flat (SBF)  exercises this year. Data is available from the HDB website. Highlighted in red are the towns that were under-subscribed. Looking at these statistics leaves me puzzled – am I missing something here? – but I will come to that later. The first question, looking at these numbers, is why are 2-room flats so unpopular? These two exercises were conducted after the income ceiling increase from $2000 to $5000 for mature estates, allowing not just lower income but also more lower-middle…

Erratic productivity levels (click to see full size)

It’s not just babies we have to produce more of

This is a follow up post to Beware the ageing population false dilemma. Here I elaborate on the two main areas the government should focus on to counter low birth rates and an ageing population. Raising productivity Sometimes, it seems like productivity is the ugly step-sister in the family of economic figures that our government is keen to keep locked up in the spare bedroom. At other times, it is an afterthought, or a nice to have. While we boast of years of strong GDP growth, it is important to remind ourselves once again what went into such stellar performance….

The abominable face of our future population (click to see full size)

Beware the ageing population false dilemma

I have briefly touched on this topic in a previous post, but there is a need to dwell further because it’s worrying how this discussion is shaping toward the direction the government wants it. We know the problem: birth rates are low and our population is ageing. As baby boomers move into retirement, our elderly support ratio (number of residents aged 20-64 years per elderly resident) will fall, putting a heavy strain on the social support network as the tax base decreases. The answer, however, is not a straight choice between increasing birth rates and importing foreign workers to make…

ERP

The road to hell is paved with ERP gantries

Hell may be too strong a word, but that’s how some of us feel on the dreary Monday morning commute to work. In this letter on TODAYonline, the writer laments that worsening road congestion in Singapore shows the ineffectiveness of the ERP system and urges the LTA to come up with better solutions. While not explicitly stated, you sense that the writer may be a little too optimistic in hoping that the government will agree with him and scrap the system altogether. In another letter published last week, the writer blamed the ERP for costing him time with his family…