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We don’t talk about it

Everyone knows that there’s money in Singapore. As a visitor to Singapore, one cannot help but be impressed by the wonderful roads from the airport to the centre of town and our range of spick and span high rise buildings. We are, on paper, one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. Our GDP per person is one of the highest in the world – higher than Germany, largest economy in Europe and higher than the UK, our former colonial master. Everyone (other than the natives), it seems, thinks we’re heaven on earth. As one Dutch expat said to me, “Where else is there worth living?” The list of countries and their nominal GDP per capita can be found at: [LINK]

Nobody is denying that there are plenty of nice things in Singapore. However, as someone who has lived in Singapore at the ground level for over two decades, the most important thing to remember is the fact that the veneer of perfection that Singapore presents to the outside world is just that – a veneer.

Real Singapore has real problems and I don’t mean the ones that involve the professional class complaining about their kids not being able to get their kids into the school of their birthright. We have people who struggle to put food on the table and more importantly, we have slowly but surely growing number of homeless people.

Photo: Mr. Gilbert Goh

I’m used to seeing homeless people. I lived in London’s Soho area for three years of my life, where you couldn’t help but run into a tramp asking you for spare change every five metres. The tramp situation was such that my sister and I ended up “adopting” a tramp called “Dave” and there was another Irish lass called Zoe who would act as my messenger – she would always let me know if a friend had dropped by looking for me whenever I was out.

However, whilst the homeless in London were inevitably young and white (the type that could easily find a job or hustle), the ones in Singapore are inevitably old and increasingly feeble. In London, it was easy to walk past the homeless without giving change. You could always tell yourself that the guy was a lazy sod and giving him money was only going to encourage him to stay off the labour market. You can’t do that in Singapore. The homeless belong to the generation that did nothing other than work. This was the generation that “built” our economy into the “tiger” economy that Western economist and local officials jack off over. Our homeless are not begging either. In two decades of living here, I’ve never been asked for spare change from our “homeless.” They’re doing things like collecting drinks cans and card board boxes for sale or they’re trying to sell you tissue paper.

The late Lee Kuan Yew used to make all sorts of speeches about how we were an “Asian Society” with “Asian Values” that respected society over the self and dare I say, our elders. Well, what he forgot to mention was that in Singapore’s version of respect for the elderly, there was a limitation or rather the fact that he would focus the national veneration for the old onto himself. Whilst he stepped aside, he made sure that he collected consulting gigs that paid exceedingly well. Every other old person was left to rot.

My previous posting asked why we, the younger generation were not having babies. Well,perhaps the answer lies in the fact that we realise that getting old inSingapore is going to be a pretty miserable experience. Whenever we see oldfolks needing to rummage through the trash to look for cans to crush and sellfor pennies on the dollar (with the inevitable government promises ofprotecting the trash for the big companies), it gives us the idea that this ishow we could end up.

When you’re faced with the prospect that no matter what you do, you’re going to end up destitute in old age, you’re less likely to want to have kids. Why spend money on raising a kid when you’re going to have to keep every penny to ensure you don’t die in a pauper’s grave? Why spend money on kids if all you’re preparing them for is a destitute old age? These are questions that our social planners need to look at if they want to solve the social problems of not enough babies.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

22 Responses to “We don’t talk about it”

  • left behind:

    Evil rich people are like animals which fight to mate and these animals refuse to allow other animals mate or animals guard the territory. Evil rich businessman and people control the money, resources access to money and system refuse to share and watch people suffer in misery. They suck up money from poor people where one dollar can make a difference in their life. They guard their money in the banks like animals guarding their territory.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Dear Tang Li,
    You said “In two decades of living here, I’ve never been asked for spare change from our “homeless.”
    =============================================================
    Of course lazy sod Singaporeans never asked for spare change.
    It is too small.

    Lazy sod Singaporeans had big ambition and they asked for big spare change.

    Go ask carrot head Gilbert Goh. He had been conned by many lazy and unmotivated Singaporeans.
    Facts:
    http://theindependent.sg/activist-files-police-report-against-woman-who-said-she-lied-about-being-evicted-by-hdb-to-seek-donations/

    Anyone here want to be carrot head ? Just believe other people story without check and check and verify ?

    Carrot head anyone ? Raise your hand.

    Treasure PAP. Vote PAP.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Dear Tang Li,
    You said “They’re doing things like collecting drinks cans and card board boxes for sale or they’re trying to sell you tissue paper.”
    ================================================================
    You are very wrong on this.
    Our minister Tan Chuan-Jin had already confirmed that the elderly collecting cans and card board are doing it for exercise.

    You are spreading fake news on this forum.
    Please apologize and withdraw your comments immediately.

    Treasure PAP. Vote PAP.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$

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  • xoxo:

    First World govt?
    First World nation?
    First World TREATMENT FOR ALIEN$.

    ONLY THIRD WORLD TREATMENT FOR THIRD-CLASS sinkingoporeans.
    You die,your business.

    Which needy sgs dont know that?
    Maybe plenty from the 62 pct???

    They think they deserve it?

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  • Asd:

    I think it’s bad idea to save and save money because all the past effort will go to future foreigner trash free rider who will become citizen to use

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  • Sad situation:

    Sad situation.
    To see so many of our elderly not having a meaningful retirements.
    Bad Policy.
    Need to do more for our needy elderly.

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  • nathan chen:

    Only death can bring about equality of any sorts in mankind. Fret not.

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  • Reasons? Reasons?:

    The reasons are so obvious, it’s no point to keep repeating the details to unbelieving sheep. In one word: PAPPY.

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  • Pappys GoDamnedPerversity:

    The problem with Gross Domestic Product is the “grossness” of this economic idea. There are no moral value considerations involved here: ie. all economic activity is accounted for as if it were of positive value.
    Hence social harm may be bunched together with – not differentiated from – social good.
    For example, a train malfunction tragedy which generates $100 million worth of train repairs, medical bills and funeral costs is deemed by the gdp concept as “provident” as an uninterrupted train service which generates $100 million in ticket fares.
    We human beings are just economic digits in their political machinery…..and how huge is this country, state, city? That you can’t see your neighbor in the eyes?

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  • What About The Homeless ?:

    Our PAP government is providing companies with money to pay our 75% of the workker’s salaries. Good .

    But what about the disabled, sick, homeless and old people who are unable to get jobs because of their age ? What do they eat ? Grass, Air, drain water ?

    Please lah PAP, provide help where it is REALLY needed. WTF

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    Well written Tangfastic, I M PG from that era now pushing 80 we work hard 2 put food on the table 4 a family of 8-9 or ten no complains
    .an extra addition 2 the family is a joy.All i.e. needed is a mat n extra chopstick. The pride of that generation never BEGs, I once offered an elderly woman selling Chinese papers at the end of the staircase…gave her a dollar but return the paper as I do not read Chinese papers…Lo n behold she return my dollar n I had no choice but to take the paper with me…That!!! is the generation I M from…Lie Con You killed the reality n created an Illusion…

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  • Dio leh Luo MO:

    Scroll Down For More Interesting Stuff
    TRE Police, I have advice from other websites, thanks to you my rating buttons is not working. You are blocking them.

    This website is best viewed with 1280 x 1024 screen resolution on a browser with Flash and Java enabled.

    What say you and your sucker friend Simon CB?

    I know, ‘Don’t like it, FO from here’

    Yes, you are 100% right.

    Yes, like Facebook. Manipulating my new Facebook for less than 2 week account as lost account and making all attempts to do a search for it futile.Even going to the extent demanding I must cede control of mobile phone number to the Facebook STAFF and the security team in order to help log back in. I say go ahead. HAHA. Sure enough, they block my phone from receiving any codes for change of password etc, etc.

    I am tired of posting anyway. Save me from serious trouble even.

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  • some Old people need help:

    Comcare should send its office out and do checking…
    Find out why so many elderly need to “beg” or do meaningless thing when they should be enjoying retirements .Spending long hours selling tissue or menial jobs does not make sense…
    Something need to be done for their welfare.
    A caring society is better than a rich society without compassion.

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  • HDB is a "Ponzi Scheme":

    Straits Times: 4 misconceptions the young have on CPF

    The biggest misconception (and PAP blunder) in Singapore is assuming using CPF money to buy HDB flat is a good investment.

    SO FAR, it has allowed Singaporeans who bought HDB flat using CPF money to benefit because PAP pushed up the price of HDB flats at 5% per year since LHL became PM. HDB flats more than doubled while wages were stagnant and thousands of Singaporeans PMETs were losing their jobs to “cheap” (no CPF) foreign workers brought in in large numbers. PAP made Singaporeans “rich” with a “property bubble” but screwed young Singaporeans who have not bought their HDB flat.) But the “property bubble” is not sustainable for many reasons:

    (1) At the end of 99-year lease HDB flat will be worth zero because it has to be returned to HDB without compensation.

    (2) HDB assumed HDB price will peak when flats are 70 years old (when the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) kick in). This is 20 years from now. It just mathematics. But this assumes a growth rate in HDB prices of at least 3.5% per annum. If this rate drops by 1.0% to 2.5% per annum (the interest rate paid on CPF Ordinary account) the price will peak much earlier about 10 (not 20) years from now. Then the depreciation of the HDB flat will be fast and substantial so the value will be zero when the lease ends.

    (3) If the flat prices continues to increase above wage increase HDB flat will not be affordable. Singaporeans will not be able to fully pay for their HDB flat before they retire. And even if they did their CPF account will be depleted so they will have to sell their flat to have the money to live on in retirement.

    HDB flats are BASICALLY depreciating assets because of the 99-year lease. Whilst HDB flats may increase in value due to economic development this is limited because the flat has to depreciate to zero because of the lease. This is a FACT that PAP cannot change.

    PAP blundered when it forced Singaporeans to “exchange” the interest-earning cash in their CPF account for an over-priced, poor quality, basically depreciating (to ZERO) HDB flat. HDB became a “Ponzi Scheme” which will cause massive chaos and hardship when it finally blows up. BTW, when this happens ALL types of residential properties will hit hard because HDB is the “bottom” of the residential property market. When the bottom of the market falls out everything above it also drops.

    The wisest move for HDB owners is to reduce their exposure to the property market by using HDB’s Lease Buyback Scheme. Just keep 30-35 years of the remaining lease of the flat and sell the balance back to HDB. Put the sale proceeds back into CPF where it can earn at least 2.5% per annum. Do not wait for the start of the crash. It will happen quickly. There will be no time to sell at a good price when the panic starts.

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  • PAP snake oil seller:

    The HARD TRUTH is our CPF is broken people CANNOT RELIE on it. With the BULK of the monies in CPF that is being used to pay for housing there is not enough to retire on.
    Even in countries like India and China people do not work till they are in their eighties. It is laughable that for a RICH CUNTRY like Singapore its citizen cannot retire and enjoy their twinlight years. Yet BASTARDS LIKE LEE KAYU can sleep in his house and enjoy his full MP ALLOWANCE. His CUNT FACE daughter in law can GAMBLE AWAY our retirement money in the CPF.
    The CPF is a JOKE the BASTARD LEE KAYU and his government promised to return our CPF WHEN WE REACH 55.Now we are being told that our houses will reach zero value when it reaches 99 years. WTF are we paying interest on a depriciating assect?
    The BASTARD SON OF THE BASTARD LEE KAYU is only interested in suing ordinary citizens and spends more time in court rooms than in parliament.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    What About The Homeless ?:
    Our PAP government is providing companies with money to pay our 75% of the workker’s salaries. Good .

    Thank you. Of course my master PAP PM Lee and his party are the best and quality performer.

    High salary get you best and quality people at the top.

    We must continue with high salary to attract top talents to join PAP.

    What About The Homeless ?:
    But what about the disabled, sick, homeless and old people who are unable to get jobs because of their age ? What do they eat ? Grass, Air, drain water ?

    Please lah PAP, provide help where it is REALLY needed. WTF

    Please lah every time blame our great PAP government.

    Why every time Singaporeans have to wait for our great PAP government to do things for them ?

    Why Singaporeans cannot take initiative and donate their money to those who are in dire needs ?

    Treasure PAP. Vote PAP.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$

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  • mike:

    Need help?
    Observe the following steps:
    1. Remove masks
    2. Go to public places
    3. Do nothing
    4. Just wait

    You will receive help with:
    1. Food
    2. Shelter
    3. Health checks
    4. Trainings & education
    5. Entertainments

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  • Pap Pap:

    Like to differ from the writer.

    I’ve been asked for spare change right here in Singalicious Orchard road. Minimum $10 by a middle aged man. He was so outrgaed when I declined, like I owed him money. I know he’s going to use the money to buy alcohol.

    There was an old man who asked for bus fare. I told him I could only spare so much. He was outraged and said :”where got enough?” I asked him :”why don’t even want to say thanks for free money?”

    Then there are the classic donation touts. Minimum $10. Beggars can be choosers in Singa! First those touts say they aren’t asking for donations. After some talk, ask you to sign package. One day $1. Can use credit card to pay some more. But all these touts have vanished nowadays.

    I think with this kind of situation, a lot of people have to sell backside.

    =============================================================
    Of course lazy sod Singaporeans never asked for spare change.
    It is too small.

    Lazy sod Singaporeans had big ambition and they asked for big spare change.

    Go ask carrot head Gilbert Goh. He had been conned by many lazy and unmotivated Singaporeans.
    Facts:
    http://theindependent.sg/activist-files-police-report-against-woman-who-said-she-lied-about-being-evicted-by-hdb-to-seek-donations/

    Anyone here want to be carrot head ? Just believe other people story without check and check and verify ?

    Carrot head anyone ? Raise your hand.

    Treasure PAP. Vote PAP.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$

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  • We Don't Talk About It:

    A Chinese man had reportedly told an Interracial Couple (Indian man dating Chinese Girl) that they should date from their own race.

    I think he is doing the right thing. Nowadays many Indian males are looking for Chinese girls. If the majority of Chinese girls marry Indian males, their children will not be Chinese because they will carry Indian names and look different.

    What will happen to the Chinese population ? The Chinese race in Singapore will be automatically reduced. We are proud of our race, language, culture etc. We do not want to be ‘ROJAK’ or ‘Kopi Susu’

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  • Spore Are Free Riders:

    @Spore Are Free Riders

    For a start why don’t you start a campaign to donate money to the old folks ?

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Spore Are Free Riders:
    @Spore Are Free Riders

    For a start why don’t you start a campaign to donate money to the old folks ?

    Hello, I am not Opposition.

    You all Opposition day in day out KPKB and whine only…

    Show me what Opposition can do.

    SM Goh is right..
    we must always ask “What can Opposition do for me?”

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  • You Can Still Donate:

    @Sporeans r Free Riders

    Even though you are not from the Opps, you can still donate to the old folks who come from Oppo as well as PAP supporters group.

    What’s wrong with helping people who are suffering ? Or are you the selfish type who talk only but take no action NATO ? WTF

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