Time to Sing Hosannas for the Lion City
My SG50 Wish List
I owe it to Singapore for who I am today, having moved here from India in 1994 and taken up citizenship with my family in the millennium year, 2000!. That meant surrendering our Indian passports! Thank you Singapore!
As 2015 marks the start of the Golden Jubilee year for Singapore, it is time to sing hosannas for the young republic’s spectacular growth across all sectors – industry, education, technology, health and lifestyle.
I missed the launch of the midnight celebrations at the Marina Bay but the brilliant fireworks are captured by The Straits Times here.
Singapore will complete 50 years of Independence on August 9, 2015, but planning and celebrations have been kicked off and detailed information is available at https://www.singapore50.sg/
Strong, Forceful Stewardship: If Singapore is today one of the world’s most affluent, developed economies, it can only be attributed to the visionary zeal of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his strong, forceful stewardship helping build a meritocratic society and fostering multi-racial harmony.
With effective succession planning, he ensured the country continued to remain in good hands.
Singaporeans can take their hats off in gratitude and admiration, with a justifiable sense of pride, recognising the contribution of the nation’s pioneering leaders.
As we march ahead, past policies may no longer be relevant with Singaporeans being a more aware, more educated lot. There is a need to ensure that what has been achieved in the first 50 years is not frittered away with policies merely aimed at propping up the economy at the cost of a good quality of life.
To me, the following areas will need attention:
- Overpopulation – the country is way too crowded and this needs to be trimmed by at least 25%. With foreigners making up about 40% of the resident population this need not be a distant dream. Let us not build our economic coffers at the cost of the high quality of life that Singaporeans enjoyed not too long ago.
- Jobs — Foreign talent is welcome if that is designed to fill in some gaps here, not at the cost of Singaporeans with the same skillset. Import of talent has to be need-based, not because of any “more-the-merrier” policy. Singaporeans, both fresh graduates and experienced professionals, are getting hit because of what appears to be a lax immigration policy despite efforts to apply some controls. If businesses want to pack up and go because of any imaginary labour crunch they will be the losers. They are here to make money, not serve the country! Going easy on immigration will also help tackle discrimination of all hues at the workplace.
- Education – Priority has to be given to Singaporeans in university admissions as the lack of it is forcing locals to move out of the country to study. Having some of the best universities here is of no meaningful value if prime courses are grabbed by “foreign talent” and Singaporeans have to go elsewhere in search of learning.
- People Friendly – A people-friendly dispensation from the government will justify the name of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). In my view, it has so far been business-friendly which is welcome. But any people-related action must take into account that Singapore citizens also belong to the species called homo sapiens, not just foreign people!
- Openness / Dissent: I am no proponent of no-holds-barred free speech. I have seen Singapore embracing openness and being more tolerant of criticism than ever before. But I would like the government to be ready to listen to voices of dissent instead of seeking to suppress it with an iron fist by perpetuating a culture of fear.
- Xenophobia – liberals warn of an anti-foreigner sentiment raring its head in the country. The government has to take some blame for it. The country is still not xenophobic but, if that happens, the biggest victims will be Singaporeans themselves as the minority races among them can be easily targeted.
- MediSave – This is one worthless policy that is keeping our funds locked with no meaningful way to use it. Worse, if your employer credits, say 10k, into your account, CPF unilaterally decides to put the bulk of it in your MediSave account if it was yet to reach the minimum balance.
May the next 50 years be even more golden than the first 50 with a people-first emphasis where peace, prosperity and harmony will continue to reign!
G Joslin Vethakumar
My earlier posts on some of the above points:
- Singapore moving towards overpopulation – my post in February 2007
- January 28, 2013 – Overpopulation behind all major problems in Singapore
- January 30, 2013, Which is more dense, HK or Singapore?
- February 1, 2013 – Planning for the worst and hoping for the best is not good governance
- February 2013, Overpopulation the great Singapore sellout
- March 13, 2013, Overpopulation seriously dangerous
- June 8, 2014 – Catherine Lim’s Bold Letter to PM