In Parts One and Two, I touched on jobs, re-employment of older workers, HDB, CPF and healthcare. I shall now move on to public transport, helping the poor, GIC, population and casinos.
The PAP promised in its 2006 Manifesto to:
- Make public places and public transportation more accessible to senior citizens
For the first time in the history of Singapore’s Public Transport Fares Formula, the result may have been a decrease in fares, if the routine annual fare adjustment was done on 1 October last year, because median wage growth was minus 1.2 per cent and inflation was only 0.6 per cent in 2009. However, by changing to a Distance Fares Formula on 1 July last year, and reversing Singapore’s only ever 3, per cent fare reduction in its history during its worse recession in 2009, an estimated 37 per cent of commuters may end up paying more.
Senior citizens’ and feeder bus fares increased the most in percentage among all fare types, over the last five years.
SMRT’s profits have grown by 187 per cent or 14 per cent per annum, from $56.8 to $162.9 million, from FY2002 to FY2010.
According to SBS Transit’s web site which only shows financial statements from 2003, SBS Transit’s profit after tax grew from $19 million in 2003 to $54.3 million in 2010, an increase of 186 per cent or 16 per cent per annum. A case of some paying less, some paying more, but transport operators always earning more?
In Kuala Lumpur, one can purchase a Rapidpass Integrated for RM150 (S$63), which gives unlimited travel for a month on buses and trains. There are also concessionary travel for senior citizens and disabled persons. In contrast, there are no bus and train integrated passess in Singapore, and there is no concessionary travel for disabled persons, with senior citizens’ concessionary travel only during off-peak hours. In Johor Bahru, JB Central Line buses provide free rides to disabled persons. KL bus and train fares range from 70 sen (S$0.29) to RM2.80 (S$1.17). For Singapore, it is from S$0.71 (RM1.70) to S$1.94 (RM4.65).
Helping the poor
The PAP promised in its 2006 Manifesto to:
- Build up the Comcare Fund to S$1 (RM2.4) billion to help those in greatest need
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has total funds of S$278 million – it had S$263 million in 2005.
The Community Development Council (CDC) (there are five CDCs) received 55,600 social assistance applications from families last year, despite the record 14.5 per cent GDP growth.
The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports’s (MCYS) budget operating grant decreased by S$52 million or about 11 per cent from S$478 million in FY2009 to S$428 million for FY2010, in the midst of Singapore’s worst recession.
A survey in August 2009, found only about 20 per cent of vulnerable elderly getting financial support from the CDC or other help agencies. One in four did not even know whom to approach for financial assistance.
In Malaysia, the Government gives a monthly allowance of RM1,050 (S$439) to disabled workers. As of 2008, there were 220,000 disabled and hardcore poor people registered with the Malaysian Community Welfare Department (MCWD).
In Singapore, disabled workers do not receive any allowance, and earn as little as S$300 a month. There are only about 3,000 receipients in the Public Assstance (PA) scheme which only pays S$400 a month, and about 50 per cent of PA applications were rejected.
Singapore has the second highest income gap between the rich and the poor, as indicated by the Gini coefficient, among the 38 countries with very high human development, according to the 2009 United Nations Development Report.
Malaysia’s Gini coefficient at 37.9 is much better than Singapore’s 42.5.
According to the 2010 World Bank’s Development Indicators, the lowest 20 per cent of Singapore’s population account for 5 per cent of the country’s income whereas the top 20 per cent account for 49 per cent
According to Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large, one of the signs of the poverty at the bottom of Singapore’s society is the number of children who go to school without any pocket money for lunch – 70,000 such children
Despite raising Goods and Services Tax (GST) to seven per cent to help the poor, CDCs like the North West Community Development Council (CDC), have various fund raising activities every year, such as the S$500,000 needed every year for North West’s Food Aid Fund which supports about 550 needy households every month.
Seven People’s Action Party (PAP) town councils said they write-off only a tiny amount of unpaid Service and Conservancy Charges (S & CC), typically 0.1 per cent. By the way, there are 14 PAP town councils (not just seven) – For example, Aljunied town council’s (not one of the reported seven) annual report indicated that its Conservancy and Service Receivables Provision for Impairments at S$4,837, was about 99 per cent less than the previous year’s (2007/2008) S$467,922.
3 to 9 per cent of households in HDB estates run by PAP town councils had payments outstanding over three months – I estimate the number in total was over 50,000?
In Malaysia, the monthly maintenance fee for public and low-cost housing is minimal, wheareas S & CC (maintenance fee) in Singapore range from about S$35 to S$60 for 3 to 5-room HDB flats, plus a monthly season parking fee of about S$70 for those who have a car.
GIC (Government Investment Corporation)
PAP Manifesto claims that the party will
- Pursue policies which strengthen confidence
GIC’s 2010 Annual Report said it has significantly recovered its losses from the previous year, but no figures were given as to how much was recovered or how much were the losses.
In contrast, Bank Negara gives monthly updates of Malaysia’s official foreign reserves, which increased from US$88 (RM211) to US$101 (RM242) billion, from March 2009 to September 2010. Its worse decline in value during the recent financial crisis was about 28 per cent, whereas the worst losses by Singapore’s GIC and Temasek were estimated to be as much as 40 per cent.
There were 168,000 new PRs and 60,000 new citizens in the last three years. The number of PRs has almost doubled in the last 10 years, from 287,500 to 541,000, and the number of foreigners has increased to 1.31 million. The influx of foreigners continues, with about 4 in 10 persons in Singapore now being non- Singaporeans (excluding non Singapore-born new citizens)
For Malaysia, its foreign born population is less than 20 per cent.
33,500 Singaporeans’ foreign spouses’ application for long-term visit passes or PR, were not successful, over the last five years.
The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme was extended to foreign spouses of Malaysians in June.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said her ministry and the Immigration Department would study the terms and that foreign spouses would get a 10-year visa like other MM2H participants. However, they will not be entitled to the duty- free car as enjoyed by other MM2H participants where both are foreigners.
The PAP Manifesto promised to
- Strive to keep Singapore a safe, stable and harmonious multi-racial society, united by shared values and purpose
It is estimated that there were more than 1.6 million locals’ (Singaporeans and PRs) visits to the two casinos since their opening, about 10 month ago, which is about one-third of the total number of visitors.
In contrast, the Genting casino in Malaysia does not allow Bumis to enter. In Singapore, locals have to pay either a S$100 entry levy for every 24 hours, or S$2,000 annual membership for unlimited entry