20150306 Singapore not a wealthy country but a playground for the rich

Based on statistics and perception of foreigners, Singapore is a wealthy country. But Singaporeans who have eyes living here will know that Singapore is actually a pseudo wealthy country.

Poverty in Singapore is glaring and even foreigners from less developed countries are shocked at the record number of elderly, some above 80, engaged in menial labour. With low income wages stagnating more than a decade or real income declining, the PAP has understandably refused to define a poverty line with our scholar and PM hopeful insulting himself with kuih lapis.

PAP should have heeded Ngiam Tong Dow when he cautioned the government 12 years ago about believing in its own propaganda. Now that an increasing number of jiak liao bee members have joined the ranks of other JLBs, the poverty rate in Singapore looks set to climb from the current 26%.

Singapore is the envy of foreigners who are mostly from third world countries, the very same people who apply for citizenship. To them, a $2000 salary is heaven sent and a passport to early retirement in their home country where the cost of living is only a fraction of ours. Little do they know that an income of $1,900 and below qualify for some form of state assistance in Singapore. This is the poverty line which PAP is too pai seh to define.

Our ‘wealthy’ status is a joke because NO wealthy country has 30% of its population earning an equivalent of S$2,000.

To confirm our pseudo wealth, I looked around real hard and found some concrete evidence staring at me in the face – 80.4% of residential units are HDB flats ie public housing. Since only a handful of wealthy citizens would choose to live in public housing estates, there little evidence of wealth in a large part of Singapore.

Fact: about 600,000 HDB units are 4-room and smaller flats. Anyone who claims wealth is clearly evident in these apartments needs to have a vision check.

Foreigners who believe in our 153rd ranked media should go take a peek, with permission, into the 60,000 1- and 2-room flats.

They’ll have confirmation there’s no sign of wealth even in new 2-room flats.

How can Singapore be considered a wealthy country when these are common sights?

Most occupants in public housing are struggling with the high cost of living and many are now in debt. PAP’s secret in creating the illusion of wealth in HDB estates – use tax dollars and residents S&CC to spruce up the exterior of HDB blocks.

Foreigners are impressed by repainted HDB flats which look as good as new…

but the interior of our award winning public housing tells an entirely different story. Thousands of residents could not even afford a fresh coat of paint for their flats which are older than 30 years.

Same wallpaper since 33 years ago. Other flats in worse condition.

Increasing poverty has been staring at PAP in the face at hawker centres and food courts but PAP eats at restaurants so of course blind to poverty.

Pioneer generation cleaner working till 11 pm

Other pioneers work at MRT stations but PAP is chauffeur driven so, again, they can only pretend to have understood poverty.

Obviously there has to be wealthy citizens as PAP themselves earn million-dollar salaries. But wealth has been unfairly distributed and is concentrated in the hands of the 10% minority such as ex PAP MP, Michael Lim.

Can an MP living in a chateau serve HDB residents living in a 1-room flat?

Photo credit: BT

Michael’s chandelier alone can put food on the table for a low income family for a year, maybe 2.

What the PAP has been doing is accumulate all the wealth for themselves and control the population through public housing using our CPF.

The majority of ordinary Singaporeans are not able to retire and also live with the fear of being bankrupted by an unforeseen medical event.

The PAP has continued to delude itself by creating an illusion of wealth where HDB building facades matter more than the welfare of flat occupants. No signs of wealth exist in the majority of public housing units.

With the highest proportion of elderly citizens doing menial work, Singapore was never a wealthy country but only a playground for the rich.

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10 Responses to 20150306 Singapore not a wealthy country but a playground for the rich

  1. Sy Tan says:


    I am merely a middle class recent retiree living in a 3-room HDB flat. And most of my friends and family members live in HDB flats (including some in 4 or 3 room flats) although I do know a few upper middle class and upper income class people.

    Those of us in HDB abodes feel no shame and down-trodden. And many of us don’t endeavour to live in private condos or houses as we welcome the convenience of dwelling in HDB blocks where it is so easy for us to access the different amenities nearby. I have a wealthy close relative living in a landed property with 9 bedrooms (the master bedroom itself is as big as my humble 3-room HDB flat), 8 attached toilets and private swimming pool with three cars, including a Porsche sports car. But I hanker not after their type of wealth or life style.

    I think your article paints too bleak a picture of Singaporeans. Many living in HDB flats are certainly not suffering from poverty with many owning cars, having full-time housekeepers, going for holidays, enjoying some luxuries, etc.

    For sure, there are some quite poor people around, including the elderly who have to work (although there are also some who choose to work to keep themselves occupied). Without exception, all countries in the world have poor people even in the richest and most democratic of nations. Your article does not reflect an accurate or fair situation in Singapore.

  2. phillip ang says:

    I think you have ignored the statistics. The proportion of poor people is unacceptable in a ‘wealthy’ country.
    Of course there’s nothing to be ashamed about living in HDB flats. But really, public housing is just a means for the PAP to control and it’s not really for our benefit.
    The 81 year old lady working in a nearby food court did not choose to work at such an advanced age. Most elderly citizens do not want to be a burden to their children who are themselves struggling. Those who work because they feel bored are an exception.
    Besides cleaners, elderly citizens are now recruited by security companies but are they suited to be security personnel. Do they have any choice?
    There are about 220,000 FDWs. The majority living in 240,000 private homes have helpers. How many FDWs are employed by the balance 960,000 HDB households? Not forgetting, many have no choice – the high cost of living requires a dual income family.
    You are not representative of those who live in HDB flats. Like me, you have understood money is only useful when one is alive. I am unable to describe more of myself at this point. : (
    Poverty can never be totally eradicated but it’s totally unnecessary in ‘wealthy’ Singapore. Don’t buy too easily into PAP’s fear mongering – that we do not have sufficient for social spending.
    Analyse our budget and past figures and you’ll understand why an increasing number of citizens are disgruntled with the PAP.
    If Singapore can easily collapse by increasing social spending in line with an ageing population, then something is very wrong with PAP’s model of governance. : )
    I know a retired civil servant who owns a car and is comfortable in his shell. With regard to all our issues from housing to healthcare, he has been in self denial since retirement.
    I believe you are in a position to contribute. Try engaging the government as I have done for more than a decade. Those who have politely provided constructive feedback know change will never come about as there’s no accountability. You may gradually come around and realise my article does reflect an accurate and fair picture of Singapore.
    Have a nice day. : )

    • Isitjustme says:


      Perhaps you will feel better when your leasehold flat revert back to HDB for nothing.
      Perhaps you only paid $6k for it so no loss but imagine the its pseudo worth of $300k once.

      • phillip ang says:

        Am surprised you are not aware HDB is worth zero at the end of 99 years. 😦
        Our HDB prices have all been inflated by PAP ie reduce/maintain supply while it increases the population.

  3. Xmen says:

    @Sy Tan,

    There are also other intangibles and benefits that are hallmarks of an advanced and wealthy society. They include working hours, classroom size, transport efficiency, minimum/living wage, electorate engagement, volunteer and social work involvement, charitable contributions, social safety net, retirement security and so on. Singapore is lacking in many of these and other areas. For example, long working hours and large classroom size are generally associated with third world countries but not first world countries.

    Even if you don’t care about these issues personally, your children and relatives will most likely care and be affected by them.

    • phillip ang says:

      Thanks for your input. : )

      • Xmen says:

        I find it alarming that many Singaporeans are complacent, naïve, ignorant, and selfish. How can they not care about low birth rate and high brain drain? Why were there so few citizens who care enough to show up at HLP against the immigration policy? Why are they not concerned when there is no human rights lawyer in the country? And the dearth of entrepreneurs in Singapore? Are they only worry about their individual well-being and self interest? If so, they will be in for a rude awakening as all these intangible issues ultimately affect the well-being of a society in the long run.

        If Singaporeans still worship PAP’s transformation of Singapore from a fishing village to a global city, they should be in awe of an even more massive transformation of China by a communist party no less in the past 2 decades. Sure, China has many issues. BUT the difference here is that the Chinese are addressing those issues head on – pollution, mobility, wages, social welfare, corruption, and wealth distribution. In contrast, today’s PAP is abdicating its duties to the citizens in many important areas. Something to think about…

  4. phillip ang says:

    Human beings are by nature selfish. PAP has been reinforcing this through its policies for decades and its not something that can be easily changed. Fear has also stopped many in their tracks from speaking up. And the fear is real – most of my friends who do not support PAP have warned me, a nobody blogger, from openly criticising PAP too much. : (
    The absence of mass attendance at HLP is only a reflection of society’s norms. People do care but only a small segment believe in protesting openly.
    More have started to speak up and fear of the PAP is dissipating as evident by increased opposition party membership.
    PAP started abdicating its duties at about the same time GCT became PM. Our ‘wise’ PM created an asset bubble by increasing the foreigner population and Singapore is now one of the richest (by GDP) in the world. Addicted to this growth shortcut, we shouldn’t expect any deviation from PAP’s ‘growth’ model anytime soon.
    I sense your frustration but PAP will always have die hard supporters. Politically-affiliated grassroots members who have benefited from the hand that fed them will always give their unwavering support. Even politicians who have plundered their countries continue to have admirers decades after they are dead.
    50 years of conditioning is a very long time and PAP’s propaganda machine has caused irreparable damage.
    The absence of mass protests at HLP protests is not confirmation of indifference. Many of my friends prefer to feedback to PAP at the ballot box. : )

  5. Xmen says:

    “The absence of mass protests at HLP protests is not confirmation of indifference. Many of my friends prefer to feedback to PAP at the ballot box.”

    What you describe is complacency and naiveté. Can you imagine an America (or western Europe) where people only speak up at the ballot box once every few years? How many elections will it take to reverse the immigration policy? 3 elections is 15 years! By the end of 15 years, it is cast in stone. Many bad policies from the past can no longer be reversed today, e.g. casinos, high housing cost, open immigration, privatization.

  6. phillip ang says:

    I understand where you are coming from. Some of the damage by PAP and its propaganda, after 5 decades, are irreparable. The emotion of fear – it’s not something that can be removed by simply willing it. Neither is greed.
    Yes, many bad policies have taken root but whether society wants to remove them will have to be decided collectively. I was naïve once.
    Everything has its time, unfortunately. : (

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