Singapore’s story is like a fairy tale. It started as a fishing village to its wondrous skyscrapers and becoming the first in many instances of the world today.
Photo by: Mike Enerio
Singapore, a tiny dot on the globe, is constantly upgrading itself to stand out to its bigger superpowers. Without any natural resources, the country has always prided its people as the biggest resource. Now Singapore is celebrating its bicentennial this 2019 reminiscing and commending with big dreams and goals for tomorrow.
Based on the International Monetary Fund 2018 report, Singapore is the fourth richest in the world according to its gross domestic product. As a cherry on top, the Economist Intelligence Unit has named Singapore (along with Paris and Hong Kong) as the world’s most expensive city in 2019. Why then is the country ranked 149th in the world, in the bottom 10, of the Oxfam Index 2018 on the issue of tackling inequality between the rich and the poor?
You are welcomed to Singapore by the world’s best airport. Its sights and sounds are glorious and stunning. Singapore knows how to dress up when there’s an occasion. But under all its glitz and glamour, Singapore is not perfect.
What affects the world, affects Singapore greatly. Referring to the retrenchments and increased unemployment rate of 3.2% from 3.1% in the first quarter of 2019, Singapore Ministry of Manpower revealed that the continued US-China trade conflicts and numerous significant political elections around the world would result in natural uncertainties in the city-state. It does not help that there is no minimum wage (except for cleaners and security guards), equal pay or non-discrimination laws for women as reported by Oxfam.
The high cost of living is scaring Singaporeans. Growing electricity tariffs and water prices, an eventual Goods and Services Tax rise, and more importantly the intensifying prices of fundamental necessities like education, healthcare and food are serious concerns. The lower-income and middle-class will be hit the most. The future appears bleak to them.
For a country relying on its population for progress and prosperity, it will do good if Singapore spent more on its necessities. Oxfam mentioned only 39% of the national budget goes there. The Singapore Ministry of Social and Family Development rebutted saying they aim for real outcomes such as achieving 90% homeownership rather than please ideologically driven markers. However, we need indicators to understand the growth of any country.
Singapore is shiny, glossy and full of great plans for the rich but quite worryingly suffocating for the poor who are just living day to day. In conclusion, average Singaporeans are patiently waiting for some miracle in their chapter of the fairy tale.