Is this my Singapore? My home and my country?


Last week from Mon to Fri, I took my meal break at Joo Koon MRT Station with my colleague Train Officer ‘Anak Abu’. We were supposed to travel back to Jurong Crew Station for our one hour meal break after ‘stepping out’ from our trains at Joo Koon station. We would have to travel back to Joo Koon from Jurong station to intercept our trains after taking our meal break.

To save time, we brought along our food and took our meal at Joo Koon station staff rest room. We had one and half hour to enjoy our meal relaxing there.

Train Officer ‘Anak Abu’ brought his home cooked food whereas I bought mine from the coffee shop when I reported for work. There is no coffee shop at Joo Koon station. It’s like a deserted ghost town there.

Since TO Anak Abu brought his meal from home, usually he had more than enough. He would share some of his home-cooked food with me. I can’t share mine with him cuz Muslims don’t consume non-halal Chinese cooked food. In return, I bought him a can drink or 3 in 1 coffee sachet. It’s a win win situation for us.

The routine is always the same. We would heat up our food separately in the micro ovens. The company supplied two micro ovens in every station for staff. For Muslim and non Muslim food.

After our dinner, I would just relax reading ‘Today’ in the staff room and sometimes chit chat with the station staff also taking their rest and meal there. TO Anak Abu would proceed quietly to the ‘prayer corner’ to have his evening prayer. There is a ‘prayer corner’ in every station. As Singaporeans, we got along quite well.

For the one week of interactions, I learnt from TO Anak Abu that he had bought a 4S brand new HDB flat at Blk 221A Bedok Central on the 16th floor more than one year ago at $368,000. It’s only 87 sq m. The smallest 4 room flat.

My parents’ 4A model at Pasir Ris bought from HDB in 1994 is 105 sq m. So much bigger and it cost $101,000 then. That was 18 years ago.

Train Officer Anak Abu kept complaining that he had to use up all his monthly CPF contributions to service his 25 yrs housing loan after paying for his medisave. There is no saving in his CPF account even if he retires unless his current stagnant pay of $1,850 increases. He is one grade below me. He has reached his maximum pay ceiling.

That’s not all. I also learnt from him that another recently married Malay colleague Train Officer ‘Zaidi Blond’ wanted to buy a HDB flat in the same block cuz there are few left over unsold units due to some unknown reasons. They like to get their flats around Bedok area cuz it’s near to our working place at Tanah Merah MRT station.

That colleague could not afford it due to insufficient CPF for the 20% downpayment. You see for the same 4S flat in the same block but at the second floor, the price has shot up to $436,000! Within one and half years, the same flat on second floor (TO Anak Abu’s flat is on 16th floor) has increased by $68,000 just like that! He had to give up. He had to try his luck in Sengkang or maybe get a three room flat instead.

Now the interesting question is why the price of the same flat at second floor instead of sixteen floor has gone up so high by $68,000? The costs of the flats should be the same cuz they were built at the same time. Why is it so?

Imagine if another Singaporean couple (only citizens can buy direct from HDB) were to buy that flat and later found out the huge price difference, how would they feel? How would you feel if you happen to be that couple? Bitter? Angry? Cheated?

The truth hurts. You will surely feel cheated and bitter over this $436,000 4S flat purchased as a first timer direct from the HDB. Will you support this government since you are so bitter and sore? I doubt so. I’m just speaking the truth as a Singaporean with feelings.

With a stagnant pay of an average of $2,000 over a month and having to service the housing loan for 25 yrs of your working life, do you still have any more cash for retirement?

The above living example is a stark reality on this 700 sq km where we belong, where space costs a premium. Space in the air in this case (not landed property) and space on the road with COEs breaking $100,000! We also fight for space in the trains and buses etc.


Is it due to the extra two million immigrants on this little rock of 700 sq km we call home that resulted in the lack of space? Or is it due to inflation? If in a year, the same flat on a much lower floor shot up by an extra of $68,000, can you imagine what would happen in three to five years’ time? I shudder to ponder over the consequence nightmare. We are only talking about few years later.

I then tried to pacify TO Anak Abu by telling him that in five years’ time, he is allowed to sell off his flat and he would make a huge profit! He retorted that he still got to buy another sky high rocket price flat. He got no place to go and still need a flat to live in. He says unless we are like Train Officer Tin where he bought his 4 room flat in the open market many years ago so cheap. When he retires to Sabah, he could sell it off and reap tons of money whereas we got no choice but stay put here. We will live and die here. This is our country and this is our home.

Train Officer Tin is a PR refusing to take up citizenship. He has it all plan out for his retirement. He already bought land and built a huge freehold house in Sabah. In another few years time – in fact any time from now if he feels like it – he could just cash out his CPF and sell off his flat to return to his hometown. He will bring his family back to Sabah. He could easily bring back to Sabah more than RM1,000,000! Sale of his 4 room flat plus all his CPF savings.

There are many PRs like Train Officer Tin. Some are from Sarawak, Sabah and Johore Bahru. Those that live in JB commute daily to work here. With OT and allowances converted to RM, it’s easily more than RM6,000 per month. Only professionals earn that kind of pay there.


Usually those PR Train Officers are very hard working. They work round the clock treating our 700 sq km little rock as a gold mine. The incentives are strong cuz they can always buy more land and houses back home. As citizens of this 700 sq km ‘gold mine’, we can’t even afford to buy a government subsidized flat as in TO Zaidi Blond’s case! We are different from those PRs.

If their performance is tip top and got a good appraisal from their supervisors, they could even hit more than RM15,000 year end 13th mth pay plus 3 months of bonuses! They really love Singapore and they heap praises on our government. Why not? No reason for them not to.

They are the greatest beneficiaries of this unique Dual Economic System where they work hard to earn their money here and spend it in their own country of origin. Their roots are still in their country of origin. Their parents, friends and relatives network is still intact back in their villages. Whereas, we do not have that.

Those PRs need not waste two years of their life serving NS. They need not go back for yearly two weeks of in-camp reservist training until 40 yrs old. When we go back for our reservist training, they cover our jobs by doing OT to earn extra income. That is a fact.

Benefits wise, they are no different from citizens. They got everything like medical care, resale flats or even education for their children. It’s just that they pay a little extra than us. They pity us cuz our CPF is locked up by this regime. Their CPF is not locked up. I could go on and on. It only pains my heart and make me cry in tears. I have been talking about Malaysian PRs. What about India, China or Philippines PRs?

Those were some of the issues Train Officer Anak Abu and myself discussed throughout the one week of meal break time at Joo Koon station. The fact is we envy those PRs in our midst. How we wish to change places with those PRs and become beneficiaries of this spectacular unique Dual Economic System! An oasis for PRs at the expense of indigenous citizens.

We are not proud to be Singaporeans. We curse our fate as citizens of this country. How to have an inclusive society when there is no morale? How to fight and win a war when citizens are dishearten and feel cheated?

I feel much closer and at ease with Train Officers like Anak Abu even though those PRs are Chinese. We are Singaporeans. We grew up together sharing the same ideals in schools and living environment and even been through NS together. We had stories of NS days to share and relate.

We know where we stand as citizens of this country. In the meantime, there is nothing much we could do. Life still got to go on and trains must move. We only wish that our children will have a better future than us. We do not want our children to end up like us short-changed and losing out to those PRs!


“The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the official policies, practices or opinions of SMRT or any organisation with which I may be affiliated.”


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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310 Responses to Is this my Singapore? My home and my country?

  1. RubySoho says:

    Y complain when u people VOTE for this unfairness.. Blame urselves

    • j says:

      what makes u think those complaining actually voted FOR and not against?

    • Bless you says:

      For the good of the place we all call home, I suggest not to indulge ourselves too much with the blame game. We can do a good deed a day by influencing one from the 60% to care more for Singapore and stop voting for the policy makers who got us into this mess now.

      Besides, things change with time. Nothing is absolute. Let’s not be too harsh to that moment of folly of the 60%. I’m sure by now some of the folks would have seen the true colours of the people they voted for. Let’s encourage them to join us in 2016 to bring a refreshing and much needed change to Singapore.

  2. D Dearb says:

    I believe in the intelligence of my fellow citizens. That’s why I don’t ask why our birthrate is so low. It’s for the best. Don’t be selfish and leave a piece of this broken place to people who will suffer for it.

  3. iamtom83 says:

    I applaud you for what you have said. our generation will make a shift in spore come 2016 with more ppl voicing out like you

  4. Singaporean says:

    Your reflections are the angst of many. Many question what is the point of being Singaporeans and not have priorities over foreigners or PRs. The recent medical subsidy reform is a good start. The wages hasn’t caught up with inflation which creates an environment where there is a tight squeeze for many to get affordable housing – typically the reason for public housing in many countries. The change in laws about owning property has come too late. Property prices have shot up through the roof already. The lack of employment laws allow PRs or foreigners to enjoy the benefits and NOT the long term responsibilities of being Singaporean. We live, eat and spend here. Most PRs are planning to earn here and return back to their hometown as soon as they have enough. More employment and immigration laws need to be in place to safeguard the interest of Singaporeans. Will PRs and foreigners be happy if they were 2nd class citizens in their own country? I do not think so. Are PRs and foreigners to blame for such a situation? I don’t think so. They want to earn a better wage and have a better life, no one can blame them for it. It is the laws that need to be adjusted to be relevant to current needs of Singaporeans. Therefore voting wisely to reflect your opinions and wants are important. When public opinion has a voice, it pushes for beneficial change for Singaporeans.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What we are doing now is for the country and no longer for the people, Singapore has become a never ending cycle of economic torment. It no longer matters how much people earn as the cost of living is constantly increasing due to people earning more. This was what the government had wanted all along, for Singapore to have an economic standing in the world and neglecting the welfare of it citizens, so that the government would get international recognition of their deeds and successes. All of us know who PM Lee is but do anyone of us know the names of our forefathers who worked their heart out when they came to Singapore? It is fine if you did not have a high level of education in the past. you can still meet your needs and live in a one room or two room flat while supporting a small family as a cleaner or any other low paying jobs as the cost of living in Singapore was low as well. However, the cost of living now is so high that Singaporeans would no longer be able to live on these kind of jobs anymore and they are forced to work and study even more just to attain what they did in the past. Democracy has become an illusion here as you no longer have a choice over much. It does not matter how hard we work or how much we earn anymore as everything else would cost more as well. Very soon people would wish that Singapore is reverted back to its kampong days where people were much more carefree and life was much more simpler, not to mention no foreigners to compete with us. Lets just hope that the 60% dies off by the next election and the entry of more 40%.

  6. Keith says:

    I agree, the cost of living in Singapore is so high. We are basically struggling to survive.. Govt can’t blame us for wanting to throw away our citizenship away

  7. true_singaporean says:

    yes, because being a citizen of a third world country with ridiculous unemployment rates that force you to find a job in a foreign country away from your family and loved ones just so you can keep providing for them is so damn easy. because living in a 2-bedroom flat with 8 other foreigners you don’t know is so damn pleasant and convenient. because being able to take care of other people’s sick relatives and kids is so damn fun even if you can’t take care of your own back home. because it’s all rainbows, magical unicorns and big dollars for these foreigners.

    • Kew says:

      You are a poet.

    • j says:

      @tru_singaporean : alas, the situation u describe is more the exception than the norm…
      ask around and u will realise most msia,china,india and even pinoy PR/expat working here DO NOT face such desolate situation…except perhaps the “ridiculous unemployment rates that force you to find a job in a foreign country away from your family and loved ones” part….not to even mention those expats from ‘white’ countries ;-!

  8. Kew says:

    Just because you are born in Singapore doesn’t mean you are entitled to a good life. Everyone has to work hard to get to where they are. Sitting around and bitching on the internet about how the foreigners have more benefits than us will have zero effect on your own financial situation. The only thing you can do is to work as hard as you can to try to break out of this cycle and if nothing changes, just remember that life is full of disappointment and despair. Some people get rich while the rest eat shit and die. Such is life.

  9. j says:

    and surprisingly, 60.1% still allow this dual economic society to flourish and continue…
    thaz why i always say : either get the F**k out of this country or die here…

  10. Kak Lis says:

    Mr Gintai, Let me give you a hug. U spoke my heart!!!

  11. jacqlow says:

    lolx… as a service staff, I have had many heart to heart conversations with people of all races and citizenship you can find in Singapore… a lot of people tell me, Singapore is only a gold mine… Cash on it, and leave… take PR instead of citizenship, cos after working for 30 – 40 years, we can go back home and retire, our government will support us with retirement funds…

    Whereas in Singapore, we have retirement funds too! but is our own blood and sweat… and the best thing is! you don’t get to use it until you die! isn’t that great? Other than that, you also spend all your retirement money funding your own house! that is even better! *note the sarcasm*

    That is why all Singaporeans do not want to come back home after leaving this hellhole… i can afford to leave better in countries such as Australia, New Zealand… I can afford to own a real house of my own on a plot of land instead of renting a shoebox in a building for 99 years… There is such a thing called “retirement fund” when we are old in other countries, where we only have “CPF money” which is close to empty, and only able to take out when we are dead… We can own a car and keep it for life, instead of renting the car at twice the price for 10 years…

    Singapore government keep saying that we are owning this and that… but is it true at all? that is so fucking ridiculous… we are just renting them… not owning them…

    • Vee says:

      With the COE rising. Sighhhhh! Is it true that COE only appear in Singapore? And not other countries?

  12. adamyap says:

    it’s a double-edged sword. i was covering a grassroots leaders’ closed-door event on public housing as a writer, with Khaw Boon Wan in attendance with HDB CEO and other panelists. someone asked similar questions on some issues, and he replied something which included: his ministry is in a dilemma because HDB owners want their flats to gain value, while prospective owners want flats to be cheap. he noted that current owners are very silent when prospective owners badger for cheaper prices, so he can’t please all.

    i find it’s very true and pragmatic. my parents bought their 4-rm flat in 1980 at $21,700 and my father just took 5 years to pay in full. i bought my 1st 3-rm resale at $195,000 in 2005 and my 2nd 3-rm resale at $353,000 in 2010, i was happy i had some proceeds. my current mortgage is even lower than my 1st due to subsidies which i didn’t enjoy 1st time and putting back the 50% proceeds, though i need to pay for 25 years and as i’m the only one contributing to CPF, my monthly contribution is practically zero after deducting my mortgage. in the end if i’m unemployed or if my salary don’t increase, by 55 i’ll have nothing in my ordinary account.

    to people who use CPF to pay your HDB mortgage: pay as much with cash if possible. when you sell your flat, HDB will deduct from the selling price the amount used for paying mortgage from CPF back to CPF which includes the concessionary 2.6% built in, so you are actually paying 5.1% interest on the mortgage installments + accrued interest for CPF withdrawn up to the day you sold the flat.

    housing is a perpetual issue in singapore. we want a roof over our heads, we want buy them cheap but we also want them to appreciate when we sell. the government has to find the right mix to this interesting and complex problem

    • j says:

      dear adamyap, this train of thought is extremely flawed…
      HDB housing is PUBLIC HOUSING…in other words, it is a public service…
      HDB can even enforce zero appreciation and nobody can make a sound…cos the simple argument is u bought it cheap and it is a government provision for citizens.
      if u want appreciation, then go buy private…

  13. J says:

    Hi everyone, check out
    Another awesome blog sharing out cries.

    Awesome post anyway. HDB housing price is inflating at a ridiculars rate and what did
    Our government tell us? So that we would have growing assets to make money from! (can’t remember which minister but saw it on channel 8 news). This is true, but to a certain extend. Who does it benefits? Again, the foreigners! They can buy a flat here and when it’s time to go, they sell it off and make a good profit. How about singapprwans? How are we ever going to make money if we are selling an expensive flat just to buy another expensive flat? What’s the point of sitting on a expensive asset if we don’t even get to enjoy any piece of our hard earn money, the 25 to 30 years of paying loan and some might not even finish paying! How pathetic are we? Average people in countries like china, they use CASH to buy their houses. And us? All squeezed in a small HDB! Oh! And it’s still getting smaller for the newer flats building up! Ministers can never understand the agony of ours because they get a nice fat pay(even after their so called pay cut) and bonus so they get to live in expensive bukit timah

  14. Alan Lau says:

    As a PR here for 33 yrs … I did my fair share of NS along with any other male locals … I’ve seen things risen to the point where is absurd. I did not want to take up citizenship its because I saw where the govt is heading.

    Put yourself as a boss of a company, to reap tons of money, what u need to do? Tons of cheap labor yet expensive goods (think Apple) … you have tons of low skilled FTs coming in “forcing” the salary ceiling not to rise and as long as the goods and stuff keep rising, the citizens will have no choice but to pay the current govt millions in salary yet the common locals suffers ….

  15. Anonymous says:

    I find that the situation nowadays are eroding my loyalty and love for this country… Felt like an orphan.. and when it comes to Scholarships; it just open an old wound with this country.. I took up mine in USA, the Americans were kinder to me despite I had only 5 A’s out of 9 subjects… Just felt things are going wrong abit sometimes…

  16. Anonymous says:

    Actually, everywhere all over the round s the same. Singapore is modern competitive country. So if we were to compare, then we have to compre with other modern city like Tokyo, new York, etc. the characteristic of the modern city is ” competitive”. Who strong who win. Especially in liberal politics situation. Unless everything become communist.
    We don’t complain about ‘ unfairness’. Nothing s fair and nothing s unfair. It depend on how we look at it. In fact, with the hi price of sgp’s property, we Singaporean tend to have more option in life. We all can one day retire and sell our house and migrat to other city and buy big land. While other country people can’t always do it.

    But why we all don’t want? Because we all feel like singaporeos better place to stay than other place. If that is the case, then we should pay for d price. Nothing is free in this world.

    I understand what. Said is cruel, but this is reality. Instead of laming on gov’s policy and foreigner or prs, we sould improve our own selves and increase our own inner strength t fight t be better and stronger.

    It is just like when we are school, there is always student with higher grade and lower grade. We don’t blame it on teacher/ tuition teacher/ god. We make o with what we have to relate opportunity.
    Good carpenter doesn’t blame on the wod. Same here.

  17. Julian says:

    I feel even more depressed after reading this.

  18. noorstanza says:

    SG is a gold mine for FTs(so call) but a coal mine for locals.. Sad truth 😦

  19. No blame says:

    Those foreign workers sacrifice their time to spend with their family and their youth by working in a foreign country. From what I see, they have made many sacrifices in working here and they deserve to take the money back home and be rich in their country. Likewise, if you are willing to, you could also work overseas where there are higher pay and come back to be rich in Singapore.

    If you can’t afford for the flats in Singapore, it means Singapore’s progress has been too fast for you and you are lagging behind. Instead of complaining, you should constantly embrace these challenges and overcome them by improve yourselves and keep pace with the country’s progress. If you don’t improve and progress with the country, it is only natural that the progress of a country would leave you in a bad situation. I am not saying that the open invitation of many foreign talents is correct. My point is that even if we do not welcome foreign talents and Singapore still manages to progress as fast as it has been, you would have end up in the similar situation now. Therefore, I find it hard to agree with you. The only issue I have with foreign talents is the dilution of the meaning of citizenship and how they would affect our nation’s culture.

  20. Vee says:

    I really am and sincerely is don’t mind have foreigners coming here to work if they share the equal knowledge as us, and have the same amount paid as us. Because they don’t mind the low wages, employer are snatching them like FOC. Forgetting that they don’t care about locals safety. Whereas locals are being “forgotten” because we want higher pay. Qualifications no longer stand a place in your resume now. What most employer care most is how much you want them to pay you. Ok, maybe NOT all company is like that. But majority of them are. Singapore has already become a money-minded country because of what our dear garment had done. Do you really think that they had their salary reduce because of us? It might all be for show. Imagine Tin Pei Ling can easily buy anything she want (kate spade maybe?) without hesitating just by showing her face every now and then to the public and we have to think twice, thrice, fourth, fifth time even if its just a Guess wallet.

    You might say “aiya, if not happy then migrate lor. So easy, keep complain complain and complain got what use?” If you really think that migrating is so easy, why so many Singaporean still don’t wanna leave? Migrating is not like going for a holiday. You buy air tickets pack your luggage and go to terminal 1 or 2 then fly off and never come back. You really think it’s so easy? Applying for a citizenship already cost how much? And you still have to find lodging over there? What about your job? Your kids education? When you are not familiar with everything there, how are you going to survive?

    I know that by complaining all the time doesn’t help. And most probably our dear garment won’t give two hoot about this article. But at least, we said our heart felt words out. At least, we feel better now knowing that some people out there share the same thought as us.

  21. Nur says:

    People who disagree or dislike this writeup must be those who benefit largely from
    the system in place by out government.

    I have a combined gross income of 8k with my hubby. We have a miserably small 4rm hdb flat, a modest small 1.3 car. We hardly eat out, we have a baby too. We are both between age of 27-30 and feeling the pinch of being stuck here in Singapore.

    PRs are leading a good life here, benefiting from our econony and education for their kids. Even our kids are competing with these PRs and foreigners for good standing in schools.

    So whats left for us? To slog and slave and continue working like dogs just to keep out neck above water in drowning waters? Or swim away, get on a life boat and save ourselves to live abroad.

    Life sucks in Singapore. Take away family, friends and memories. Theres nothing left for us , citizens here.

    It sucks. Period.

    • A says:

      do you really need a car or to eat out everyday? the question really is, what kind of life are you expecting to have. a five room flat with a big car? btw a gross income of 8k is pretty good considering that you all are in your 20s. when you go overseas and try the life there, i guarantee you will look back at your life in singapore and regret why you moved.

  22. Dotman says:

    Its easy just to point out the comparisms between the PRs & citizens. It has been rightfully pointed out that PRs seemed to get a better end of the deal if they work & save hard before retiring for good in their home country. But there are tough choices they make too… having to leave their families behind & with it support or to take 2 hrs (each direction) to commute from their homes (JB workers) & for such sacrifices together with pulling extra shifts & work. Here, we are complaining we can’t find an affordable home near to our work place. No one gets a free lunch in the world & all the options that are opened to them are opened to us as well if we dare to leave our comfort zone to work in other countries who in turn will depise us for the same reasons we are depising the foreigners in our midst now. I had worked overseas for a while & I decided to return home, not because SG is better… I came back because this is where my family & friends are & the fact I can feel comfortable being in the majority herd without being constantly looked at as “Trash”. Fact is we are a small country, it may or may not be right in churning our economy by adding in more head counts. Businesses needs customers & the only way to grow is either to raise prices or get more consumers. We no longer can just mass produce & hope someone somewhere will buy our goods. Raising prices will just make it a vicious cycle where we will need to get paid higher to to buy higher priced goods while adding more head counts will just add pressure on our space constrains. And for those who are talking of returning to simpler times like in the 80s, can we tell the younger generation to forgo the glitzy shopping centres, fancy restaurants & iPhones?

  23. T. S says:

    Hi, came across your blog thru facebook sharing. To Cepheids, if you are reading this, I wonder how you can possibly say those things to us Singaporeans. I’d suppose you are one of those earning more than$7k. Big deal. It doesn’t make us people who are earning far less than that, any less of a Singapore citizen. It doesn’t mean that we should quietly sit down while prices rocket above our heads and we are able to afford less and less things.

    If we are the bottom 30% of society, so be it. BUT we are still facing a huge problem! You cannot just be thinking about yourself and put down us poorer citizens. You sound like someone working for the PAP and trying to justify their policies, where in the meantime we people are suffering. What Gintai has highlighted is true. Housing is a basic necessity, and if we can’t even afford a roof over our heads without worrying every month about how much money we have left for ourselves and our families, then I’d say the government is not doing a good job.

    The current housing grants is rubbish. It cannot keep up with the escalation of housing prices. The government says that we can buy flats with $1k a month salary? Yea right, that’s if we and our families eat grass and walk to school/work. Please think about it Cepheids. Don’t look down on us poor people. Thank you.

  24. Pingback: Singaporean Vs Permanent Resident | theswigs

  25. Anonymous says:

    Seriously if a person working at the “bottom” 10% earning 1850 SGD can write up such an article
    S/he is seriously underpaid…
    If said person is in another country that pays journalist well , the pay will be darn high IMHO…
    This is pretty sickening to see such talent belittled just because s/he is a citizen.
    Can anyone say RIPOFF?

  26. A says:

    not forgetting that the government is reducing the benefits of PR recently like primary school enrollment and that kind of thing. no matter which side of the matter we are on, the grass on the other side is always greener. singapore is a country where it’s true that it’s tough to survive because of the high living expenses. but it’s a country that will extend help when you call for it (assuming you know where to seek help) and as long as you are willing to work hard. some people may think that it sounds like words spoken from an ivory tower. but if you think about it, we have a roof over our heads (even though we spend our lifetime paying for it) when many people in other countries don’t even have a roof over their heads. sometimes, it’s just a matter of perspective.

  27. 903278 says:

    1. Someone said that PRs are not required to join the CPF scheme. Fact: PRs are required to do so. What that means is employers are also required to contribute to CPF for PRs.
    2. PRs definitely do not enjoy the same benefits as the citizens e.g. medical subsidy in a C ward is up to 80% for citizens and up to 55% for PRs. The eventual goal is to reduce it to half of what the citizens are enjoying i.e. 40% for PRs. Foreigners on a work pass do not enjoy any kinds of subsidy.
    3. Although they do not enjoy almost the same benefits (which is fair but why the wide disparity?), both citizens and PRs are taxed the same way i.e. they pay the same amount of income tax.

    Many countries allow dual citizenship: AU, US, UK, CA, etc. Of course, both Singapore and Malaysia do not. In fact, I think most PRs are happy to take up Singapore citizenship (it makes sense if it’s a better place to live) but because of personal reasons (the ties of kinship being the stronger one, I think), they aren’t able to do so. Don’t launch an attack if this is the case. I am a Malaysian and a PR.

    • Anonymous says:

      In addition, second-generation PRs i.e. those who are sponsored for PR status are liable for NS. First-generation PRs i.e. those who can contribute immediately upon the grant of PR status are exempted.

    • Anonymous says:

      In addition, second-generation PRs i.e. those who are sponsored for PR status are liable for NS so stop comparing the two. PRs are not as good as you see it. Grass is always greener on the other side.

  28. ricky says:

    Hello people this is abt surviving in Singapore.2k for that is gross amout n cut with cpf how much can we get??pay pub bills,pay hndfne bills,pay property tax,income tax,groceries n if got children how?its not enuff.So the spouse gt to support n provided its enuff but still we r living with our heads off like dead chicken head.Its not easy to live in singapore.

  29. Z says:

    Simple Sum Example:

    – your bank savings is depreciating in value every year due to low bank interest, inflation and higher costs of living
    – if you are 35yrs old now (2012) and plan to retire at 60yrs old (2037), how much $ do you need?

    2037, things are going to be much more expensive than now looking at how an economy progress.
    Assume you need $2000 a month to survive in 2037 (which mayb very little money at that time) and you can live for another 20yrs (240months) to a median national lifespan of 80yrs old, you need a min. cash sum of S$480,000 per person, excluding your non-working spouse, depreciation of cash asset and continual rise in cost from 2037 to 2057.


    – Define your own meaning in “Quality of Life”
    – Back calculate how much you and/or your spouse need to attain in Wages to have at least $480k cash in the example scenario above
    – Advice is better to set a target now and plan quickly

    End of Simple Sum Example.

  30. Anonymous says:

    GUYS!!!! if you want a better life, please work for it!!!! the foreigners seems to be better of because they are work freaking hard!!! why complain so much?? did you work hard all your life to get to your state of living??? perhaps you did but then only you know how hard you work…. i admit i struggled too… just to survive but it is because i didnt really think about my future when i was younger… whatever it is, we only have ourselves to blame… the system is there to help us, not kill us… stop complaining unless you have a better idea to help our plight.. else work smarter???

  31. Pingback: Is this my Singapore? My home and my country? « THE TEMASEK TIMES

  32. Anonymous says:

    Australia la! Who’s with me?

  33. Go Kick says:

    I can see that you are suffering a lot. Maybe you have no roof over your head or nothing to eat. The government also prevents you from living Singapore so you would not be able to work or travel elsewhere. And the price of HDB is too high to buy as you must be paying market price for it, with no subsidies from the government at all. No point looking for jobs as well as the unemployment rate is the highest in the world. And bosses only reward those who work hard as opposed to looking at nationality first. Feel very sorry for you.

  34. southeastasian says:

    I truly felt the sincerity of the writer. If I were in your position I would also feel the same. I honestly, feel the sentiments. But I’m not local. I’m from a third world country with little opportunities for growth in any area for the masses. I was lucky to have been able to receive a good education and given priceless opportunities. I just wish that while everything said may truly be a fact, that this does not harbor ill feelings towards non-citizens – foreigners. I’m very sure that locals have their concerns and the government should address them. Locals should have government initiated retirement funds – ask for it, you deserve it, you worked hard for it. I’m not aware of the full history of immigration in this country. I am aware that space, transportation, etc. are big problems. But when I see your country, I see what the government has done for it citizens, I can’t help but wish that my country’s government has the same level or even just an ounce of love for its own citizens because it doesn’t. The people in my country are college graduates but opt to become nannies or domestic helpers all over the world. So, please, please excuse us sometimes when we are in awe of countries who take good care of their citizens because we were never taken cared of. We are almost always left there to fend for ourselves. While you have safety measures on your train system, people in my country live along train tracks; while your little toddlers have very nice playgrounds, the kids in my country need to beg in the street during traffic. I don’t mean this to belittle us or to ask for pity because surely we have grown callouses for these kinds of things. What I ask is a little understanding, a little compassion, just a little whimper so that discrimination will not grow too much than it has. The people of my country are so humble. I promise you we are not proud. We are just a bunch of people who need to feed our own starving families back home. That’s all.

    • 903278 says:

      unfortunately, people from some countries like the philippines appear to only mix with their own people and they do not even try to mix with the locals. it appears like a discrimination to me or maybe they just feel comfortable talking to their own race.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Come on, qualification is not everything. If everyone in Singapore earns themselves a Doctorate, you will be expected to see a Doctorate employee hired for the post of Admin Assistant or Cleaner with a salary of $1500 or below. And in actual fact, you cannot deny the fact that there are people with lower income and might be going through difficult or unfortunate circumstances. They are folks who are trying hard to just survive in SG with rising costs. A roof over us is just basic. And if this cannot be fulfilled due to cost issue for the lower income, then it is a concern, which it is. I would not call it a complaint. It is a true fact.

  36. TGIFmen says:

    Me and some friends just pooled money and bought some properties overseas. If you are keen to explore migration, drop me an email at and I will give u more details via email. Hope to help.

  37. Jean Choo says:

    I agree with your comment, well said. Thats very true!!! Spore Govt, pls open your eyes & mind to help your fellow citizens…

  38. Padaly says:

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist
    Then they came for the Socialists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a trade unionist
    Then they came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew
    Then they came for my CPF
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me.
    My heart bleeds ….

    Martin Niemöller

  39. Anonymous says:

    I strongly agree brother..

  40. Husky says:

    Wonderful article. Congrats, many people have posted your article on PM Lee’s wall. 🙂 Thanks, we couldn’t have phrased it better ourselves.

  41. Anonymous says:

    considering that most Singaporean’s granparents came from poor fishing villages in remote area of China, whatever you guys have right now is more than what you deserve.

    • Bless you says:

      Hm, I’m trying to understand what you are trying to say.

      Our forefathers who painstakeningly built Singapore and bring her to where she is now doesn’t deserve to have their decendents reaping the fruits of their labour? What do you think we deserve then? Shall and can we start all over again as a fishing village to prove our worth?

      I understand that you are not Mr Almighty and I’ll certainly take what you said about what we deserve and not with a pinch of salt. Just hoping to understand your thread of thought better with the above questions.

  42. Anonymous says:

    If you cant afford a 4 room
    Flat, buy a 3 room.
    If you think you have been cursed, go away then.

  43. sweetee says:

    Gin Tai, while I share your pain, your writing missed a crucial factor. The regime you blame were not voted in by PR’s. Your fellow Singaporeans are the ones that made this possible. You might be surprised that your own parents might have voted them anytime during the last 50 odd years. Believe you me, while some young Singaporeans are unhappy of the high HDB price, the older ones, would be equally furious if his flat price goes down. Why is this? We are trained to seek individual survival instead of collective survival, thus all the competitive character building since young woven into education system.

  44. Nair says:

    Yes we should all migrate. I want my kid to be international, benefit from schooling and take advantage of cheap foreign labour. perhaps become one himself, seek his goldmine in another wealthy country and return to Singapore a with freehold land through money made elsewhere.

    I absolutely agree the Singapore policies are flawed and i have chosen to stop complaining and live abroad, yet i cannot understand the constant Singaporean gripe of bashing foreigners as conniving, schemeing etc.. but whos to police who enters except for the companies themselves. They came to earn a living, like sgps do in China, USA, Japan, HK etc, I feel for them only because i was racially taunted in Australia, i dont wish for others to feel the same way as i did. i live in HK now and enjoy being a foreigner, perhaps HK people regard sgp like themselves.

    • CC says:

      Indeed. I live and work in HKG now too.
      The main reason to left Singapore is due to higher pay of course. I can say that I am happier compared when I was in Singapore.
      Just that now I see my son lesser as we decided to send him back to Singapore for his kindergarden and prepare him for Primary sch (HK education is expensive especially International sch) .

      I am hoping that things will improve before 2016, so that I can come home once more.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Congrats gintai, your blog has made it to LHL face, book.

  46. CC says:

    I read the article with interest.. it’s indeed one of the reason why I left Singapore, and join the FT camp and become one in HKG. I did it due to the higher salary they offered 40% higher than my Singapore post and hoping that something will be changed in this coming 2-3years before I decided to come home once again.

  47. AnonC says:

    This is a good read..but i can’t help but think that somehow your story is partially blaming the PRs. I as a PR myself is shortchange livng in Singapore but i love this country. My pay is not even up to 2k. So before you complain that we PRs are taking everything. think twice. We do not come and work jsut for the sake of working..we work hard to pay our loans and support family back home. I dare say everything in singapore is darn expensive..specialy schools..seriously..
    Anyway, am not here to complain, am just saying that, lots os Singaporean keep complaining about everything.. why not do something about it? start something and reach to your gov. It keeps going like this is because the citizens kept quiet.
    Speaking of buying HDB flats is expensive? you forgot to mention the rentals of room the PRS has to pay..seriously a small HBD, fan, no AC and shares bath with kithen that sometimes you are not even allowed to use and paying at least SGD550 min a month.. it is already too much. Think out of the box.. do something, enough of complaining. I have been and always been hearing the complains but not the action.

    No offence here, but i am pretty sick and tired of hearing about the Singaporean complaining about the PRs or expats or foreigners taking their job. Hard work does pay off.. my salary is not even 2k as mention, i work over time everyday just to be able to live by to support my little boy. Be it frm UK. ASIA or US, when u work in a different country..evevrything is dollor by dollor. Not conversion. THings cannot be compared like that. Economy these days..who knows what will happen.

    Sometimes in life we should appreciate what we have and thank God that we still have roof to cover our heads and put food on table.

    Just my 2 cents thought. Have a good week!

    • D says:

      Just because you are not taking more than 2k and have to work so hard and een overtime, that’s why we are out of job. Your employer considered you as “cheap labour” that’s why they use you and not us! We expect higher pay because we have the qualification and experience there. But it seems that both of this that I mention no longer stand a place in my resume. What the employer want now is cheap labour. Of cause they rather hire you cheaply and can do many works than to hire me expensively and doing lesser works. Think about it.

      I studied so hard to get myself a place from primary school to secondary school to poly and finally a uni grad. What do we get in return? Employer offering lower pay than a phillipino FT.

      You complain that Singaporean charge so high for rental every month. We used our own sweat and blood to buy a house, a 3 room flat in Clementi cost approx 370k. What makes you think that rental is more cheaper than what we have to pay every month? Your electricity bill, your housing loan, phone bill, gas bill and so on. Do we really have a choice to charge you guys cheaper? Sharing room is common everywhere. You go to college, their dorm is also shared.

      If you guys share the same level of knowledge with us, get the same pay, work the same load, I won’t complain. Please go and take a look in most office right now. More than half of the employee is philippinos and prcs. So what is our society trying to do? Force us out of singapore?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Cepheids <—— I quiter that loves the MIW.

  49. Anonymous says:

    dont compare with other country with us, this is singapore.

  50. Jason Liew says:

    This is rather amusing. Singaporeans not from the lower income bracket are asking the ones experiencing difficulty not to complain, and PRs coming to tell the Singaporeans to stop complaining about wages because the PRs may be getting even lower wages.

    What’s so amazing is how each party seems to want to argue from a minority point of view. We have much to thank our government for as Singaporeans, and yet I can also see the frustration that Singaporeans seem to always be complaining from a foreigner’s perspective.

    Many Singaporeans of the younger age believe that our government is very short sighted. When I say younger, it stretches a little to 40 maybe. What is unfortunate is our population (from our population pyramid) seems a little lopsided and I can see why the leaders which the younger generation are complaining about can still stay in power even with a large number of people who disagree with the current policies – a larger number exists that support the past success of these same policies.

    The question is whether these policies have been improved from the past because many things have changed in Singapore other than the number of foreigners and PRs here today. Do we continue to maintain the policies of the past that worked in the past? Or do we strive to improve them in order for them to stay relevant?

    We cannot expect change to happen overnight. But we do expect that people should start admitting to their mistakes, apologizing, and finding a solution to the problem that they have caused; as opposed to arguing that “it has worked in the past and therefore should work now”, or quitting as demonstrated by the most recent stepping down of SMRT’s CEO.

    Yes I am one of those that think that the government can do a better job, knowing full well that everyone situation warrants a “can do a better job”. I think we have reached the stage of maturity that we learn to take criticism as a sign that something might be wrong, instead of taking it as an attack on an organization or certain people.

    Let’s remain objective. What is wrong with pointing out what we think is wrong?
    And to the ones doing it – it doesn’t hurt to exercise some tact and a balanced argument that demonstrates the form of sophistication and intelligence that I’m sure every Singaporean has,

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