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Majulah Singapura

It was Singapore’s 57th birthday on August 9. As always, there was a spectacular parade, which as per the usual was a chance for the military to show off its latest toys (our toys are considered the best in the region) and to perform great feats of marching (A former Canadian army officer described our marching as “perfect”) and there are other feats of song and dance. The evening inevitably ends off with fireworks.

I grew up watching the parade and I guess the parade became even more significant to me when I moved back from the UK to serve national service. This was what you would call my first encounter with “real” Singapore and although I am terrible at drill (I don’t have a sense of rhythm and I have an even worse sense of “marching in a group”), there is something incredibly special about hearing drill commands and watching other people do drill.

However, whilst I find it significant to watch the military portion of the parade, I have felt the need to question the purpose of National Day. In a way, National Day has become something like Valentine’s Day. Why do you need a special day to be reminded to love your country when you should be loving your country every day? Although I try to avoid criticising the parade itself (I know how hard the contingents work to put on a good show), I do question why we need a grand parade to show that we love the country. I, like everyone else holding a little red passport, should feel an emotional connection to the country regardless of whether we have a parade or not.

The issue of “feeling Singaporean” has become especially pertinent in the last two decades. New arrivals from other parts of Asia have gotten many of us to ask ourselves about what our nationality means to us. I have said it many times before, Singapore seems to be the only place better loved by people from elsewhere than the native-born. I live it. My Vietnamese wife thinks Singapore is heaven on earth and spends her days telling me that I need to do more to keep the world’s best government happy (pay more taxes). My daughter, who is naturalised Singaporean, accepts that its easier to travel the world on a Singapore passport when compared to a Vietnamese one, but does not seem to have an emotional connection to the place.

I get why many of our foreign arrivals love the place. As I have often been reminded by people from America and Western Europe – Singapore is clean, green, safe, and rich. What is there not to like? While I see all these things, I ask myself if its possible to be drawn to the place even if it was not all these things.

I cannot explain it, but I feel it, especially when the National Anthem is played. I am part of “gen-x” of the generation born after 1965. I am part of a generation that that has never known Singapore as anything other than an independent sovereign state. The only national anthem I have ever known is “Majulah Singapura.” This was the national anthem that I sung when I went to school. By comparison, my mother, who is a “boomer” sang “God Save the Queen” when she was at school in Singapore (When Singapore was a Crown Colony).

While I am from the generation that has only known “Majulah Singapura” as a national anthem, I am also of the generation where Malay ceased to be part of the common language of the streets. I speak English, which is the working language of Singapore. If push comes to shove, I can communicate in Mandarin and Cantonese (Mandarin being the language our first Prime Minister said defined Chinese and Cantonese being what I spoke to my paternal grandma in). Malay, our national language, has for our Chinese majority society, become the language for drill commands in the army.

So, I have utterly no idea of what “my” national anthem means. I only knew that “Majulah Singapura” only meant “On ward Singapore” when I was well into my thirties. As far as I know, there is an “Onward Singapore” and a reference to “Nanyang” which as far as I know, is the reference to a Chinese majority island in Southeast Asia. Other than that, I have utterly no idea what my national anthem means.

Yet, while I do not know what my national anthem means, I would not want it to be otherwise. While I may not know what the lyrics of “Majulah Singapura” mean, I feel a connection to the very lyrics of the National Anthem. I guess the connection you feel to the nation is not something that can be explained rationally but its part of you. I do not think I am the only one who feels this way. [LINK]

I remember there was once a discussion about changing the National Anthem to English. It felt like a violation. As one of my good friends (who is local Tamil) said “My national anthem is in Malay. You change my national anthem over my dead body.” Here’s an English translation of “Majulah Singapura.” [LINK]

Click to enlarge

I have argued that change is a constant. Cultures change and we should not be afraid of how things evolve. You cannot expect the demographics of Singapore in 2022 to be the same as the demographics in 1965. The aspirations of people in 2022 should have evolved away from the aspirations and needs of 1965.

However, there are certain things that are part of us, and we should accept that too. Majulah Singapura is a part of us. Just as I cannot tell you what the words mean, I can tell you that hearing the national anthem gives me a feeling of belonging to the place. The technocrats need to understand that our social fabric is based on feeing as much as it is on technicalities. Being Singaporean is not something that can be measured but it is something that can be felt.

 

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

31 Responses to “Majulah Singapura”

  • Harder Truths:

    Tang li – you have not done National Service I believe. You have not had the misfortune of being rejected for jobs just because you are ‘Singaporean born’ or have ‘Reservist’ or so many other excuses so people can employ an FT instead of you.

    In reality you are an FT who has been given status above the locals by the Regime. You are not a local-born working with third-rate skilled morons from foreign countries whose main aim is to backstab you and take your job, and on top of that work and smile and bow to them because you need to keep your job.

    I do not have any kind of feeling except disgust when I see the $inkie flag or hear the National Dirge. Do you know the $inke flag is a combination of China’s communist five star flag and the Islamist crescent?, because the Dead Despot was so scared of these two groups he wanted to appease them.

    You can talk a lot about culture and pride and all that bullshit, but in $inkie there is only one law – you die your business. And $inkies are at the bottom of the economic dung heap.

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  • Harder Truths:

    If I am wrong about you not serving National Service then I humbly apologise – but my facts about what locals face is true and accurate.

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  • numbers guy:

    The purpose of national day is very clear. In fact, you almost explained it yourself. It triggers positive emotions in a lot of people and associates the current government with those positive emotions. Naturally a government will utilize this mechanism to the full extent.

    The reality for Sinkies looks rather grim. With chicken rice and energy getting more expensive, scams, unaffordable housing and the whole country signed up for dangerous medical experiments, ND is a safe and effective way to make people think that the government is overall still doing a good job. And it’s all paid for by the taxpayer. What a great deal!

    Why should everybody love their country anyway? What is the country? The soil, the government, the people?
    You got yourself a Vietnamese wife, because you didn’t like the local women. So how much love for your people do you really have?

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  • C’est la vie:

    ******
    The NDP is an occasion to spend the peoples monies and show the islanders, … just how far sg has come and all the benefits that emanates from it, … all brought to you by the best government in the world !!!

    This government is all about showboating and self acclamation and, … what better occasion than this also, to alert the watching world.

    And, getting its people to be proud of its passport “status”, “home ownership” on a lease and “incorruptible” government, amongst many many misconceptions, … points to the fact that it all works, and working well !!!

    So, … if it’s working for the government, why fix/change it !!!
    ***
    ******

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  • Ah! Masterbaiter AhLi...:

    (However, there are certain things that are part of us, and we should accept that too. Majulah Singapura is a part of us. Just as I cannot tell you what the words mean, I can tell you that hearing the national anthem gives me a feeling of belonging to the place.)

    It’s a part of “us” meh? Who is this “us” ahcik?

    You can’t tell the meaning of Majulah Singapura even into you 6th decades of life – you bukan trublu Singaporean lah!

    Your feeeling in which part of your body happening ah?

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  • James Lee:

    Given how SG were managed by the uncaring PAP elites and their cronies over the past few decades, of whatever trusts that remain have all but gone.All true blue SG should realize something is not right.Act before it’s too late.

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  • Reality:

    Reality is many do not understand the National Song.
    Better to be in a language that they can sing with meaning understood.
    Make it easier especially for younger generation.

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  • KT2:

    Every year on National Day 9th Aug, SG celebrates with a grand “National Day Parade or NDP.” I think we shld not call it NDP anymore. It is no longer a parade, if you guys do a search on the word: parade. In the old past, yes, it was a parade with army, navy, air force, police, etc n many other contingents marching or performing on the roads lined with thousands of ppl ! Right now “the parade” is more or less static or at one location ! We shld change it to NDS or NDC (i.e. National Day Show or National Day Concert) or any other suitable name, but w/o the word: Parade. I m sure the G always say we must move on with times, and do a necessary adjustments or changes. None of the MIW (Monkeys In White) raise this issue for fear of what I dunno !

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  • Vote for a Bettet SG for All:

    Its more like Mati-lah SGpura these years.
    Our once clean & green SG and peaceful peoples are now all endangered – compliments of our sgov’s daily huge mismanagement over the years and their “no blane culture” that holds no one in their circles to task.
    ..whoever he keeps warning us about eg the outside forces….is it a way to frighten peasants to keep voting his party in forever.
    So what is he and his band of mil$ minions doing about it…besides giving our sgs doom and gloom speeches each ND?
    We expect the highest level of governance ..since theyre paid highest gov salaries..
    But we dont see that happening..
    Still accepting fleeing political criminals in to share our clean sg air and peace…eg that ex SL pres.
    WHAT THE HELL!

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  • Awakened:

    Let`s be clear. The PAPigs policies is systematically diluting the Singaporean heartlanders core. Sinkieland runs on the opiate of deceived marketing. Ash Man, himself, admitted this to CCTV in an interview that Sinkieland adopts marketing to pull in new migrants.

    This is a bad and tenuous policy. More young Singaporeans are booting out. The HDB-CPF nexus is to lock in Sinkies from moving out because they know this aggressive citizen replacement policies defeat the purpose of serving NS. Our power supply, water and power stations have been privatised and some are owned by foreign companies. How do you protect something that is privatised and doesn`t belong to you anymore? Sinkies enjoy protecting the assets of the slave masters. The island has balloned from 3.6 million to 5.7 million with more than 40% foreigners. This was 2018. This number is set to move to 54%. What you serving NS for? You been hoodwinked. What are you defending? Sinkies are confidently unthinking. Only thing now, Sinkie children will pay for their parents` political apathy. Very sad. Even God cannot help Sinkie.

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  • Count on me:

    They have a vision for tomorrow
    We do delivery, indefinitely
    As for all those PMET
    Just drive taxi and PHV

    You and me can do our part
    We should ignore all their farts
    We’re gonna show them what true-blues can be
    Give them the bird in the next GE

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  • xoxo:

    One que$tion for our leader$.
    Is is right to have Maju-lah Singapura qhile we also have *MALU-lah singaPOOReans*?

    We have no qualms is *EQUALI$ING* taxes as via G$T (which impact the poor much more) but we COWPEH when poor CITIZENS ask for more help.
    We can even claim aloud GOVT WILL HAVE TO INCREA$E TAX BURDEN of younger sgs if G SPENDS ON HELPING THE OLD N NEEDY CITIZENS?
    ALL THE YOUNG sgs buy that.
    But do we see young sgs COWPEH when G simply took $100 Billion to grant generous furlough even to highly paid FTs?
    Meanwhile,the old n jobless got only a short-changed sum of $600 out of a claimed PER CAPITA GRANT of $23.5K?

    I am not a broken record but the fact remains that this HARD TRUTH has not been properly accounted for,not by HSK NOR LW,NOT BY OFFICE OF PRESIDENT,NOT EVEN QUERIED BY WP?

    SGS NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH WENT TO NON-sgs?

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  • The Sun, The Moon & The Truth:

    A few years ago I attended my son’s inter-school gymnastic competition and at the end of it, when we stood attention to sing the nat’l anthem, tears actually welled up my eyes half way through Majulah Singapura.

    They weren’t tears of pride. They’re tears of sorrow. I felt sad bcoz thought of what has become of sg and thought of native singaporeans fast becoming a minority in our own country really upset me.

    I used to feel so proud of my beautiful country. I felt proud of the sacrifices our pioneer singaporeans have made to build our sg and I felt so lucky to be born a singaporean.

    However, our country is now no longer what it used to be. It is now ruled by a bunch of heartless leaders who are so ever hungry for power and money! The poor gets poorer while the average natives struggled to live their daily life. On the other hand, foreigners are freely allowed to bluff their way into our country to steal jobs from locals and our once valued citizenship papers are handed out like advertising pamphlets to any Tan, Dick and Tamby.

    During the leadership of the 1G, singaporeans worked hard to chase the 5Cs. But now under the 4G leaders, one toxic C alone has and is enough to kill the hopes and dreams of many native singaporeans, how many natives can still chase after 5Cs now?! Mentioned “CECA” and you can hear all kinds of cursing and swearing!

    Unless you live in a well, it’s a well known fact that majority PRs became singaporeans only for the sake of better benefits. One ex-colleague shared that her husband had repeatedly failed to get citizenship for a few years. But all of a sudden one FINE day, he received a call to tell him to re-apply. Apparently it was some ‘mass recruitment’ period. Maybe near GE? I don’t know. Anyway, Bingo! He was really given citizenship and he vowed he’ll vote for the white party from then on.

    Also, many new male singaporeans managed to siam NS too. Imagine if some fateful days, sg needs defending, do you think this huge number of naturalised citizens would stay to fight for sg? One who has not been trained to handle arms before, I’m pretty sure they’d run for their life and get out of sg the moment they smelt war. This is also why if a couple was both foreign-born, one of them would keep the citizenship of his/her country of birth so that they can use the back door in case of danger in sg.

    I’ve been part of the National Day parade contingent before as a youth. Felt really proud to participate then. But now ND is just another public holiday to me and I believe it is to many too. The absence of sg flag and the traffic jam at the Causeway cannot hide the truth. Singaporeans are no longer proud to stay home to celebrate. People prefer to get out, mo gnan thai already!

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  • Billy ma:

    National Day is about the country & about the people for the people.

    But PAP had robbed all of it for its own poster.
    PAP made this day a show piece that it’s all about PAP.

    Lky does not want anything anywhere to be named after him.
    Just wait for for lhl.
    His cronies will fight among themselves to make things & places plasted with the lhl name.
    For someone who can disregard the will of his father & one who doesn’t blink his eyes in destroying his own family members, what else he won’t do.

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  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    numbers guy: You got yourself a Vietnamese wife, because you didn’t like the local women. So how much love for your people do you really have?

    You don’t get it right? And stopid Singaporeans don’t get it too.

    Marrying a foreign spouse is an extension to ..

    option 1 .. get out of Singapore

    option 2 .. get protection from foreign spouse.
    Nancy Pelosi: Don’t mess with me!!!
    https://bit.ly/3SKVxke

    option 3 .. increase his fortune with more business opportunity like Nancy?

    See Tang Li is smart like Nancy Pelosi.

    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2022/08/nancy-pelosi-travel-taiwan-increase-family-fortune-son/

    No person is above the law! but Nancy Pelosi is above the law, sir.
    https://bit.ly/3vZ5Wiy (please download it before UT removed it)

    Dr Chee, Teoh Soh Lung and all the Ang Mo Tua Kee nuts, please comment.

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  • panyusg:

    Singapore lives in an unpredictable neighborhood sandwiched between two far bigger nations. It cannot take national pride and security for granted.

    There is a reason why the SAF fighter jets are doing repeated circles over Singapore almost five days a week. Also, the Chinook helipcopters are sent out on patrol over the Western coastline.

    Also spending many millions to send soldiers to Germany, France, Australia, Taiwan, Brunei, USA, NZ, etc. for ground exercises. Why? Why not train in the neighborhood?

    National Day is to bring together everyone as One Nation, to put aside our disagreements, to cherish Singapore as our home. Or do we want to be slaves to another country? Or be a Sri Lanka?

    As of June 2021, Singapore has S$1051 million or just over 1 billion S$ in reserves ( MAS, GIC and Temasek ).

    And we complain about spending some millions to celebrate our freedom as a nation?

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  • ah pek:

    Some say why complain about some millions spent for national day celebrations and he may be half right.
    But,why the Gahment cannot spend a some billions to help our own needy singaporeans when can raid reserves to grant huge sums of our money to non-singaporeans with high salaries?
    Why cowpeh.
    Help own people is wrong meh?
    We give big grants to those who have spare cash to invest in gold and stock markets.

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  • theforgottongeneration:

    Just wondering how many of our new citizens can sing the Majulah Singapura.

    Ah Hen recently finally gave some figures on how many NCs are doing NS – which worked out to be about 15% rate (3400 out of 22000 NCs each year). By Hen’s own admission, this represent about 20% of the NS intake each year – meaning there are about 13,600 tru-Singaporeans each year entering NS. With our births at about 30-32K each year, it means tru-Singaporeans has about 44% rate doing NS.

    Hen should have kept his mouth shut. Million$ minister FAILED against a 30K(?) NCMP – very malu, hor.

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  • Western Sheep:

    Some commenters here talk a lot but turn out to be ignorant. No difference whether they are pappy sheep or western sheep.

    “Empty vessels make the most noise”

    panyusg: As of June 2021, Singapore has S$1051 million or just over 1 billion S$ in reserves ( MAS, GIC and Temasek ).

    And we complain about spending some millions to celebrate our freedom as a nation?

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  • NDP:

    Actually it is OK to have NDP.
    Just do the same for the poor and elderly also.Spend some money to help them.

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  • Why Be Proud Of Spore ?:

    My two sons and I are currently finding it difficult to get a job in Singapore. Yes Singapore our own country. This is due to the many Foreigners allowed by the PAP to work in Singapore.

    Should we be proud of the PAP or our country Singapore where we have problems to survive ?

    Fark the PAP government which is killing its own citizens. KNNBCCB

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  • Kaiju:

    Show of military assets and make its people marched like ducks, that’s what commie countries do. A national day is simply a day used to bind most people together.

    What is the meaning of national day? Grouping people together to serve the goal of those seating at the VIP seats. You felt a sense of fake proud when fighter planes zoom through the sky displaying : We have the capacity to kill.

    You march in rhythm where war is a messy place with piled up bodies.
    You sing national anthem where words carry no souls.
    You read pledge while it is just an aspiration.

    You cheer at clean and blacken tires of rolling war machines but never know how it can crush its own people.

    Those awake will remain awake, those in dream will wake up some day.

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  • Commie France:

    Kaiju: Show of military assets and make its people marched like ducks, that’s what commie countries do.

    Quick, see Commie France’s military show. Big big show. The show involved 64 planes, 25 helicopters, 200 horses and 181 motorized vehicles.

    It is an annual opportunity to showcase France’s latest military hardware, in a spectacular setting attended by many thousands of spectators lining the Champs-Elysees, and viewed by millions more on TV.

    Some 6,300 took part in Thursday’s parade, 5,000 of whom were on foot.

    There was a respite from a severe heatwave engulfing France in recent days, with temperatures dropping to a manageable 25 Celsius in central Paris, much to the relief of the marchers in full uniform.

    The air force demonstration, the parade’s most spectacular part, included aircraft from European allies and the Patrouille de France fighter jet squadron— already seen flying over the Cannes Film Festival this year for the world premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick” starring Tom Cruise.

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  • Kaiju:

    And yes, France had its commie roots since the 18th century. Any surprise?
    Its the commie thing to display military might.

    Commie France: Quick, see Commie France’s military show. Big big show. The show involved 64 planes, 25 helicopters, 200 horses and 181 motorized vehicles.

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  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    Why Be Proud Of Spore ?: My two sons and I are currently finding it difficult to get a job in Singapore

    There are plenty of jobs in Singapore.

    As long as one is not fussy and choosy, you could easily get a job in SG.

    The trouble is many Singaporeans are fussy and choosy. They like to tell me they pass their degree…yeah right… pass by cheating using 10 years series template..

    And many Singaporeans thought they could bluff their way out in real life workplace like what they did in the army…cut corner here and cut corner there.

    example, clean GPMG chamber don’t clean properly ..some don’t even bother to clean the spare barrel.

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  • Change lah:

    Maybe time to change to one that all can sing easily with understanding.

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  • Commie US:

    Kaiju:
    And yes, France had its commie roots since the 18th century. Any surprise?
    Its the commie thing to display military might.

    Come, watch this $98 million commie US military parade.

    https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/08/16/trump-military-parade.html

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  • theforgottongeneration:

    Singaporean R Free Rider:

    The trouble is many Singaporeans are fussy and choosy. They like to tell me they pass their degree…yeah right… pass by cheating using 10 years series template..

    Once in a while, the doggie does speak sense – like president’s son very choosy not to serve out his NS before pursuing his medical career; no need 10-year series too. And the contribution to SG from his special deferment – Zero.

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  • panyusg:

    Why are those in TRE who are ranting here not form a political party and take on the PAP?

    Barking dogs without teeth?

    TRE will not swing many votes. How many in Singapore even read this blog?

    Tech: Ah… finally showing your true colors. Don’t worry, we will give you more time to expose yourself. BTW, it is not TRE’s objective to swing votes, we are not for or against any party. We are merely a platform and which direction we head or which topic we cover are decided by the contributors and readers. For example, the hottest topic now being discussed is sperm selling, you interested? lol

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Watch this tik tok on Joo Seng flats and their selling price.3 room Joo Seng selling at $550,000 !!!!Tik Tok link -”https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSRkMaXDU/”

    How come newer Punggol five room is still cheaper than those Joo Seng flats ? Punggol residents should kick out Teo Chee Heng,Puthucheary,Yeo Wan Ling,Sun Xue Ling and all present Punggol PAP MP next General Election.All these Punggol PAP MP never create value for Punggol Estate and as such Punggol flats being newer and the most latest modern estate did not rise greatly in value ! Like that how to sell to survive the high cost of living ? All other areas of Singapore has risen shatply in value except Punggol NorthEast !

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  • Too Much Supply:

    Punggol has too much supply of MOP HDB; price difficult to rise.
    ”DPM Lawrence Wong signals rich may have to pay more taxes”
    Time to increase greatly the taxes on rental of those with second property.
    Housing units are for LIVING!
    Not for speculation.
    Esp speculation by Foreigners.
    Our property market cannot be a third casino.
    The NEXT generations are suffering because of this speculation.
    LEARN FROM MISTAKES of HONGKONG.
    Papigs—your cooling measures ARE not working; many Covid/Lockdown refugees from tiongland are heading here because of Emperor Xi failed policies.

    Soccerbetting2:
    Watch this tik tok on Joo Seng flats and their selling price.3 room Joo Seng selling at $550,000 !!!!Tik Tok link -”https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSRkMaXDU/”

    How come newer Punggol five room is still cheaper than those Joo Seng flats ? Punggol residents should kick out Teo Chee Heng,Puthucheary,Yeo Wan Ling,Sun Xue Ling and all present Punggol PAP MP next General Election.All these Punggol PAP MP never create value for Punggol Estate and as such Punggol flats being newer and the most latest modern estate did not rise greatly in value ! Like that how to sell to survive the high cost of living ? All other areas of Singapore has risen shatply in value except Punggol NorthEast !

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