14 November 2006

The Aging Population

ST Nov 14, 2006
Ageing profile is coming 'tidal wave', but Govt is prepared

By Sue-Ann Chia

LIKENING the issue of an ageing population to a tidal wave poised to hit, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Government was preparing for its effects.

It will, for instance, look into helping older Singaporeans unlock the value of their assets, such as homes, so that they will have income in their golden years.

The question was how to unlock the value so they would still have a home - perhaps a smaller one, or on a shorter lease - but convert that value into a steady stream of income that can see them into their old age.

This was something that there were various ideas on, he said, adding that National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan was looking into them.
I love the way PM Lee makes it sound as if he and Mah are coming up with some grand innovative ideas all on their own. The truth is that reverse mortgages are not a new invention. They just haven't happened in Singapore, that's all.
Mr Lee painted a picture of the changing population profile when he responded to issues which MPs had raised in four days of debate on the President's Address at the opening of Parliament.

Mr Lee said there were 112,000 elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and above in 1980 - about the same number of residents as Toa Payoh town.

Last year, this number more than doubled - to 291,000 or 2.5 times the number of people in Toa Payoh.

In 2020, there would be 575,000 people aged 65 and above - a number enough to cover five Toa Payoh estates.

'This is a tidal wave which is coming towards us,' he said as he also cited what it meant for the ratio of elderly people to those of working age.

This ratio was 1:14 in 1980, meaning that for every elderly person here, there were 14 others who were of working age. But the ratio was 1:9 last year, and will narrow to 1:5 by 2020.
In Singapore, this scenario isn't anywhere as scary as it would be, say, in most other developed countries. The main difference is that in most other developed countries, the government is committed to providing pensions, subsidised healthcare, social welfare etc for its senior citizens. As the number of senior citizens increases, it becomes difficult to fund the social welfare system.

In Singapore, there's no welfare system, so the ageing population does not pose such a big challenge for the government. Of course, as the population ages, more voters will belong to the senior citizen category. Then again, most Singaporeans never get to vote anyway, so the PAP will continue to hold all the many uncontested seats in Parliament.
The Government will take a more concerted effort to tackle the problems arising from Singapore's silvering society. And leading this task will be Mr Lim Boon Heng, who has a keen interest in the ageing issue.

Mr Lim - who steps down as NTUC secretary-general at the end of the year - will continue as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and oversee ageing issues on behalf of the Prime Minister.

I think they used to call Mr Lim the Minister Without Portfolio - perhaps they still do. I too would love to earn more than a million dollars a year while being responsible for nothing in particular.

But Mr Lee reminded the House that the Government had already been addressing some of the issues associated with ageing.

There has been the lift-upgrading programme to have lifts stop on every floor; the Maintenance of Parents Act which ensures children support their parents; and various committees looking into ageing issues and helping older Singaporeans work longer.
All of these are terrible examples. Okay, let's see.

Lift upgrading programme ... Well, I don't have to mention Hougang and Potong Pasir, do I. They each have a very significant senior citizen population, don't they. Their lifts aren't getting upgraded, are they. You know why, don't you.

Maintenance of Parents Act ... Ironically, this piece of legislation wasn't proposed by any PAP Member of Parliament. For that matter, it wasn't proposed by any Opposition member. It was proposed by a Nominated Member of Parliament - Professor Walter Woon. Another irony - it was the previous GST rate hike that inspired Walter to come up with this idea. He was worried that the hike would make things financially difficult for senior citizens.

And now ... the government is about to raise GST again.

I'm also amused to see PM Lee say that "helping older Singaporeans work longer" is one of the ways by which the government is tackling the aging population challenge. Why am I amused? Read my old post here. An excerpt:

Frankly I am not very sure what is the significance of the government raising or not raising the retirement age.

If you need the money, you will want to work. If you like to work, you will also want to work. If you don't need the money and don't like to work, then you won't work.

All of the above holds true, whether you are 45 or 62 or 75 years old.

As for employers, they will employ or offer to employ whoever they think they need, at whatever cost they think they can afford, and at whatever salary they think the employee is worth.

That also holds true - whether the employee is 45 or 62 or 75 years old."

In other words, old folks will work if they have no choice.

Back to the Straits Times article:

Their financial security has also not been neglected.

Singaporeans had the Central Provident Fund (CPF), for instance. 'We've built up their CPF, we've put aside substantial savings, we've allowed Singaporeans to invest these savings in housing and house property values have appreciated for many Singaporeans,' he noted.

Even the poorest 20 per cent of the population have, in their home, a 'significant' asset: about $138,000 worth of equity.

Well, once again you can read my old post about the poor owning a "significant asset" in their own home. Sure, it's significant. And when they sell their own, they will also be significantly homeless.
'Overall, in terms of financial adequacy of our old folks, we have a good system based on individual savings and home ownership,' Mr Lee said. 'It ensures that most Singaporeans have put aside enough savings for their old age.'

There will be a few who will not have enough due to lack of regular work, illness or misfortune which is beyond their control, he noted.

'The Government will do more to help them and will help them to do more to help themselves, as we have been doing,' he promised.

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Anonymous said...

"...reverse mortgages are not a new invention. They just haven't happened in Singapore, that's all."

Hi Mr Wang, NTUC Income offers reverse mortgages.

Anonymous said...

I will be a fool to go on believing.

Anonymous said...

Check this out:

Anonymous said...

2006. This is a year of surprises. First everyone thought the phrase of the year is 'Mee Siam Mai Hum.' Then came along the Wees and the infamous 'get out of my elite uncaring face'.

Now we have 'raise the GST to help the poor'. Simply amazing. We may get yet another surprise around Christmas.

Obviously, the PAP thinks Singaporeans are stupid. 66.6% may be stupid enough to make PAP incumbent; therefore 100% are stupid enough to see through the absurdity of this twisted logic.

Frankly, I won't be surprised if some of the additional tax revenue is channeled into subsidising Ho Ching's misadventures overseas.

You think Shin Corp is bad? There are financial warnings about Bank of China's frauds and bad loans - Temasek is one of the shareholders. Potentially hundreds of billions of (US) dollars is at stake here.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are prepared for the tidal wave..two words "Living Will"

Anonymous said...

not welfare but workfare? hmm...if you need to rely on workfare, you probably be prime candidate for the next tital wave to wipe you out eventually. it is like waiting in line to die next. help? we all know how hard it is to get financial help when the system is designed to discourage such assistance. what more when the number continues to grow and tax the system further. in any case, such helps are created more for convenient official discourse and for our media digestion. great for some form of accountability but highly dubious in practice.

nahh...we need to be more suicidal and think ...WELCARE!

Anonymous said...

"helping older Singaporeans work longer"

They should start a campaign on that. I already have images of PAP grassroots members holding whips in their hands..

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I am more worried about the tidal wave of bad investments by Ho Ching.

I suggest we set up an early warning system. That way, Singaporeans can be prepared for another GST hike or other fees increase.

Anonymous said...

I've worked on reverse mortgage securitisations in Europe - old people would be better off selling their houses and renting somewhere smaller.

Anonymous said...

The piece of crap about raising the GST to help the poor is even more amazing! I wonder how he came up with that logic?! Does he think that we are all too stupid to know that GST is a regressive tax????

Anonymous said...

In Singapore, GST is not a regressive Tax, you stupid. That is why we are uniquely Singapore!! And by April 2007, 66.6% will nod in agreement with PAP! And don;t you dare disagree with them, cos you will be creating mischieve, on the internet.

Anonymous said...

"as we have been doing" - LHL

If that's the case, there's really nothing to talk, comment about or change. Everything is going well.

'As we have been doing' IS the problem.

Anonymous said...

the sad part is the 66.6% will still forget 4 1/2 years down the road.

as long the gahmen shelf out some candies and the 66.6% will happily turn around and get screwed for the next 5 years.

i dont blame the gahmen, it is just common sense that they will push all the "negative" policies within this 4 years and then spend the last year handling out goodies.

i blame the people, the 66.6%. We have a chance to make a stand and we blew it.

we handled them absolute power.

we deserve it.

denzuko1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
denzuko1 said...

I will kick you out of your own home, but look at the bright side, you will be much richer. I really wonder what kind of logic is that?

Anonymous said...

The scary part about LHL speech on upping GST to 7% is that he didn't say that it will be the end of it. Rather he said that at 7% it is still lower than some countries GST/VAT.

Prepare yourself more tital wave will decend on you.... maybe after the next election. Please remember that 66.6%! Please remember.

Anonymous said...

it will still be 66.6% unless u guys starts to do something to ur female relative and frds(sry to be a bit sexist).. who care more abt shopping and korean series than our society and current affair..

its more scary to know most of them voted PAP based on the goodies handed during election yr and the cleaner image portrait by the pap...

for them...by default... vote for pap...

i personally thinks its at least 70% of them did that...

educate those female ard you as much as you can now...

Anonymous said...

its not just the gals, look at our guys. they are out looking for fun:


they don't call it SINKleeLAND for nothing.

Anonymous said...

honestly, every time somebolee opens his mouth, i cringe...

Robert HO nric S0197974D said...


My blog above is proof of sorts that LKY rigged the elections in 1997 Cheng San GRC.

So, no need to blame the 66.6% who ostentibly voted PAP. The PAP may actually have been voted out but rigged the results again. If LKY refused to let Cheng San 1997 results stand, why would he allow himself to be voted out? He is having far too much money and fun to stop or retire. In fact, he is now much more active than during GCT's Seatwarming Interregnum.

My blog is incendiary. It has been up since October 2006 but not a single police came near to my flat to arrest me. Proves something.

However, I may be wrong about the police yet to come knocking. I may well be arrested anytime even today. Then Mr Wang and all the other bloggers can point to my blog as to the reason for my arrest.

With the new proposed laws and harsher penalties forbidding free speech, I could be in jail like forever.

And as long as they watch me from the flat above every single day, which I consider criminal, hostile acts, I will continue with my blog and emailing. If they stop, then nobody will read me and there will be no problem. Since they insist on criminal surveillance, I have no choice but to continue. Every day of surveillance is a tit for which my emailings are a tat.

Robert HO

Anonymous said...

Please don't blame the 66% for whatever you think the govt has done wrong. It is not wrong to believe PAP's election campaign speeches. Also not wrong to feel intimidated by PAP as well as the reckless and powerless opposition.
Look at HG and PP and touch your heart and declare that the majority in these 2 wards are happy with their casts. Perhaps they now regretting as much as those who voted the failed pap men!
Another reason for not blaming the 66% is that doing so breaks the country into 2 camps. This is the method of pap - divide and rule. So please don't divide ourselve because only pap rules

Anonymous said...

The least they could do is not what they are doing to the estates in Kallang, Bedok and Eunos.

For these estates, the HDB takes back "old" housing estates and redevelop them and sell back smaller houses to the original owners. I do not know whether the original owners of these flats are given 1 to 1 exchange for these "new" smaller flats or do they need to pay again for these flats.

That is HDB reinvention for you.

For your information, Being a resident under Mr Mah's GRC, i did write to him prior the 2006 election concerning certain issues on upgrading (all other blocks in my neighbourhood is given an additional new lift expect 3 of the blocks in the neighbourhood). The response which i received was a standard reply stating that HDB will respond to it and he forwarded the email to HDB instead of assisting me and answering my questions directly.
If he is giving this type of reply prior the election, i would not have high hopes of his replies after the election.

Just my 2cents worth

Anonymous said...

More like MIW looking for additional funds to finance the PAP sanction screw up investments abroad. From Suzhou Ind. Park to Shin Corp. billions are needed to fund these losses. What 2020 aging population tidal wave. It is a red alert from PAP now and money is needed for past, present and future investment screw ups.

Why can't they use their own money first?

Anonymous said...

"it will still be 66.6% unless u guys starts to do something to ur female relative and frds(sry to be a bit sexist).. who care more abt shopping and korean series than our society and current affair.."
"i personally thinks its at least 70% of them did that..."

Dear luther blisset.

The very fact that you would make a comment like that goes to show you ARE a bloody sexist.

Pray, let us know which hole you crawled out from so we can seal it up.

People like you set mankind (pun intended) back to when you hunt and ate the animals raw.

Anonymous said...

before we start our war of words...

just ask 10 female(eligible voter) ard u regarding issues like shin corp, sg welfarism(many helping hands) or even wsm saga(elitist ruling class)..

then we start this debate abt my supposingly mvp comments...

this is just cold hard facts...

continue to stay inside ur well and hide ur head under the sands..

as long as majority of sg female thinks shopping and korean drama is more appealing.. 66.6% percentage will remains..

Whispers from the heart said...

It's true. Some Singaporean women are really livig in the dark ages where shopping and korean dramas ruled.

Some had little choice because they only read the MSM. I know many aunties around me who would chant happily - if the gahmen says good, it must be good!

It is therefore important that we educate those around us to be more aware of life and issues. Every issue has good and bad. We must exercise what is God's greatest gift to humans, the ability to think. Otherwise, we end up like the elites ruling us.

My son gave me 2 books written by LKY some years back. It led me to a path of enlightenment :)

Never believe those who wear knuckle dusters to be kind to you.

Anonymous said...

Some had little choice because they only read the MSM.

what is "MSM"?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

This is interesting. I do believe that if a study were done, then after correcting for the other variables (ie if all other things were equal), it's a likely result that:

Singaporean women would be more likely to vote for the PAP than Singaporean men who have done NS (that means most Singaporean men, excluding FTs who took up citizenship after they were conveniently past 18 years of age).

Anonymous said...

I am single female, 36 this year. Fully understand Rowen's "sexist" comment.

I generally find it difficult to exchange views on politics with my female counterparts. Most think positively about MIW and politics is of least interest to them. However, Singaporean males who could or are willing to share comments on politics are not many too.

Being a recent resale flat owner in one of the three old estates mentioned by Rowen, I am happy that only lift upgrading has been announced for my block. I have heard too many horror stories on main upgrading with additional space added - how bad the workmanship of the contractors is, the inconvenience caused & overprice of the work done. I witnessed the quality of the work while flat-shopping last year and settled for my "run-down' 28yr-old flat.

I do not wish for an en-bloc to be announced for the blocks here as many are old residents who most probably wish to live here till they die or just do not have that spare cash to move to a new flat. As much as HDB said the new flats are heavily subsidised for en-bloc, most of these old residents would still need to service a new mortgage loan again (nothing of 1 to 1 exchange as most new flats for en-bloc are bigger).

Just look at the plight of the old folks at Boon Lay when en-bloc was announced early this year. Not all old folks have the option of getting the money & go stay with their children.

Purchasing a flat doesn't mean staying in Singapore for good, given opportunity, I am ready to be a quitter anytime. This place is becoming more of a hotel to me. :)

Anonymous said...

Rowen, I am sorry! The "sexist" comment did not come from you, apology!

Anonymous said...

given opportunity, I am ready to be a quitter anytime.

welcome to the club

Anonymous said...

sexist comment come from me.. i am sick and tired of these ppl (majority female and some male) who aren't remotely interested in current affair at all ... always by default.. vote for PAP... and rest of us are make to suffer for their irresponsiblity...

i dun mind if they have at least think thru before they cast their vote ... even if they have choosen to support pap...

no wonder our outdated and discriminating woman's charter nvr get review... as long as pap knows who is supporting them...

Anonymous said...

Sigghhh....have 2 agree. Majority of Singapore women care more about slimming courses, which whiter than white face creams to apply, which dressing to expose more cleavage, belly button, legs, backs,etc. If they only divert their focus, not much, only once in a while on issue of the state than things can be different. But....sigh..

simplesandra said...

mr wang wrote: "Singaporean women would be more likely to vote for the PAP than Singaporean men who have done NS"

I'd tend to agree, especially with the educated, "empowered go-getters" who, imho, seem to prefer the government's pro-business approach.

anonymous wrote: "Most think positively about MIW and politics is of least interest to them."

True, just pander to their materiailstic needs and you've won their vote. Or am I being cynical again? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Materialism = giving up our rights as the true owners of the country.

Now our civil servants=PAP/MIW becomes our master and lord.

Monopolising every aspects of our lives. Even our working lifes=GICs.

Pro-biz - Read up Sim Wong Hoo "no u-turn syndrome"

What a sad sad state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

Hey luther and whispers,

Not fair lah. I am female, watch Korean dramas, like shopping read ST but also avid reader of websites, serious blogs and others that explore local and international issues.

I've also used my brain to vote, you know? You may even call me an auntie :)

Anonymous said...


If you are referring to the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme, personally as a flat-hunter, I feel it is a good one because owners get new flats in exchange for old ones at discounted prices. It's a bonus for singles who cannot buy direct from the HDB.

For an aging single who pays for the old flat with 100% CPF, I think that is the best deal in the long run.

The only catch is that there are restrictions/penalties for selling the new flat.

Anonymous said...

Why is Ho Ching still at Temasek since her leadership has allowed such a big blunder like Shin Corp to happen?

Anonymous said...

If Low TK and Chiam S T would take the risk of quiting their MP seat now...and therefore force a By-election. The voters will surely remember the GST, Transport fare, etc , etc...

Singapore Constitution

Filling of vacancies
49. —(1) Whenever the seat of a Member, not being a non-constituency Member, has become vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, the vacancy shall be filled by election in the manner provided by or under any law relating to Parliamentary elections for the time being in force.

Anonymous said...


I think it is too big a risk for them (and us) to take because it is too easy to tweak the laws.

If we are so unhappy, to that extent, we should not expect the two to act alone, while we sit back and watch from safety and security.

Anonymous said...

...and ccw, I hope you are not a pro-papaya in disguise.

Anonymous said...

Generally, females don't care about politics or current affairs or discussion of more intellectual stuff. They just want to know where/when is the next bargain sale downtown. Try striking up some intellectual discourse with a random female acquaintance next time.

No doubt there are males who are preoccupied with the trivial pursuits of materialistic and hedonistic pleasure too, but I highly suspect the number is much lesser. Many SG males' eyes were opened during NS after witnessing the whole disgusting system before your very eyes (white horse, inefficiency, sucking up gets you promoted, blame pushing, rank pulling etc etc). Many got out of the Matrix and broke the spell cast upon them during National Education.

Meanwhile, the females continued to trap themselves in their safe little cocoons.

Anonymous said...

Coffee Shop Talk - Double Standards From The Government? Subscribe
From: makapa 09:50
To: ALL 1 of 2


Double Standards From The Government?
We have seen the continuous efforts from the government telling Singaporeans the need to get their skills upgraded in this ever competitive landscape. On one hand, we have been told that when we upgrade our skill-sets, opportunities will be plentiful. On the other hand, the government opens the flood gate in issuing work permits and PR status, thus creating competition for Singaporeans. I think the agencies in question need to sit down to look into this seriously. What are the priorities?
What is more important? Getting more ‘would be Singaporeans’ to join us to boost our GDP or helping real ‘authentic’ Singaporeans find jobs? It seems that the government is interested in getting quick fixes. I have seen reports saying we need to have foreign talents so that MNCs would be more interested in setting up operations and investing in Singapore. Let’s not forget that the Government’s responsibility is to take care of its people first. What’s the point of having investments in the pipeline when there are real Singaporeans suffering and can’t wait to end their lives. We have heard of the $500,000 MRT ride.
We have also not seen the actual breakdown of jobs that was really offered to Singaporeans as MOM has a way of including PRs as Singaporeans. Perhaps more could be researched onto how long a PR actually stays in Singapore before they leave the country and how many of these PRs actually commit themselves and become a Singaporean.

I want to make a clear distinction between foreign talents and foreign workers. Not all foreign workers are really talented and thanks for the excellent branding our government gives them. We have just inadvertently told the world that we’re not good enough. Try telling that to the South Koreans, a country that treasures their local talents and have made huge leaps of progress without jeopardizing welfare and jobs by opening up the flood gates via a foreign talent policy.

Living standards are rising by the day but it seems that salaries have not increased much to match inflation. What’s the reason for that? The influx of foreign talents is the root cause of it. We should welcome the foreign talents but not ‘over embracing’ them. Can you tell me which employer would not like to have lower paying salaried workers? By having an over supply of low-wage workers, it is just Economics 101. The salaries will either maintain or go down. This situation worsens when we have more supply. Take a look at Old Chang Kee and you will see workers of different nationalities. When there are too much foreign entry level workers and not enough jobs, we create other social problems. Crime rates go up but at whose expense? Just take a look at Little India and you will realize that it can get really rowdy at times.

How about the mid-tier jobs? You have slogged through 16 years of studying only to realize that there are literally thousands of foreign workers vying for the same job. With that ratio, it is hardly surprising that all the good jobs would have already been taken up. In India alone, there are 400,000 computer science graduates every year. How about China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam? By making Singapore a haven, the situation is only going to get worse. We need to ask ourselves when the authorities will say enough is enough and put a stop to that. Until we hit a population of 7 or 8 Million people? What are the jobs left then? Jobs like Retail, Customer Service, Receptionist, Insurance / Property Agents? You don’t study 16 years to do that.

Let’s not forget our roots and create a Singaporean for Singapore society.

Options Reply

From: makapa 10:24
To: makapa 2 of 2

124044.2 in reply to 124044.1

From: Noor Aiza Mohamed Joz [mailto:noor@sph.com.sg] On Behalf Of STForum
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 2:10 PM
To: edmund@infiniquetech.com
Subject: Re: Double Standards From The Government?

Thank you for writing to us. We do appreciate your making the effort.

We receive 70 letters on average each day. Limited space means we can publish only about a dozen every weekday.
This means having to make often-difficult editorial judgments on which letters to publish.

We regret we are unable to publish your letter, and hope you will appreciate the constraints on space we face every day.
We hope you will continue taking an interest in the Forum Page.

Yours sincerely

Ms Noor Aiza
for Forum Editor
The Straits Times

Options Reply

Anonymous said...

if you earn $5,000 a month and got a raise, now you earn $7,000 a month. this is 40% increase.

5% -> 7% is a 40% raise my friend!

don't be goondo and think it is just a "2%" raise (2/5 x 100 = 40%).

Anonymous said...

Why is Ho Ching still at Temasek since her leadership has allowed such a big blunder like Shin Corp to happen?

Because she is the First Lady (Bitch more like). Super White Horse.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
If you are referring to the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme, personally as a flat-hunter, I feel it is a good one because owners get new flats in exchange for old ones at discounted prices. It's a bonus for singles who cannot buy direct from the HDB.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:21:44 PM "

Dear Anomynous,

Take the scenerio whereby you are 62 and you finally redeemed you flat from the HDB and then the HDB said hey i am going to take back your old flat of floor space 120 square metres( area calculation excluding the area of the walls and the aircon ducting) and i am going to sell you a new 120 square metres flat (are calculation which includes the area of the wall and aircon ducting) at a discounted price."

I do not suppose that after redeeming the flat the HDB will give you a new flat which is smaller and at 1 to 1 exchange. I dont think that selling it back to you without compensation for relocation and asking you to pay is fair since you have redeemed the flat.

I am not sure how the system works but if i am not wrong the above is a scenerio which occurs.

Please correct me if i am wrong.

Hence, the HDB is reinventing itself by taking old flats and making the occupants pay the price again....

Correct me if i am wrong.

These are my assumptions only.

Anonymous said...
Rowen, I am sorry! The "sexist" comment did not come from you, apology!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:39:34 PM

Apology accepted.

Just 2 cents worth.

Anonymous said...

With the situation as it is now, I just hope that many of the 66.6% are from the poor, the chronic unemployed, the aged sick, the less than $900 earners, etc because they really ask for it. Now they are getting it. So don't complain. Don't whine. Grit your teeth. Get on with life for the next 41/2 years..... if you can last that long.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, excellent points made about this subject. I like to add on a few of my own.

Our greying population is something that the government should have forseen long ago. It's not difficult to project how many citizens will be in which age band, given the statistics the government collects, and virtually no illegals. Question is how did we get to this state? Allow me to offer some reasons. The government's very successfully 'STOP at 2' policy instituted years ago, the 'no question asked' policy on abortion, the graduate mother scheme and no citizenship to foreign spouses policy are all contributing factors. When they try to reverse the trends and procreation incentive fail, FTs become our 'saviour'. The slogan of the day becomes, 'Let's treat FTs better than citizens, so they will stay and have babies. I wonder out loud, who have been held accountable for the past policies that bring us to our current state?

Our government prides itself in making it possible for most of our population the ability to own their own homes, through the use of CPF forced savings. Fundamentally a good thing, many would argue and I agree. However, it is not rocket science for a reasonably smart civil servant to figure out that there are associated downsides. With economic progress, rising cost and scarcity of land (all of which are very visible), costs of homes will require larger percentage of income. Moreover, a commitment to a house is a long term one, usually spanning 20 or more years. The result is Singaporeans are asset rich (asset=house; singular because average Singaporean has on other assets, all their money is in the property they live in) and cash poor. The less fortunate ones who loses their steady income as a result of unemployment, retrenchment, structural umemployment, employers' discriminations, unfair competition from FTs, over extension of themselves financially, etc ends up with difficulties meeting their housing loans. The more fortunate ones who have repaid their loans find upon retirement, that they do not have enough to see themselves through their old age. They cannot possible eat their HDB flats' doors for meals and wear their flats' curtains in place of clothes.

What to do with this problem? The brilliant minds in MND, led by Mah BT is going come up with this wonderful scheme called reverse mortgage, to free up cash for retirees so they will have something to live on. As Mr Wang pointed out, reverse mortgage is not new.

Where we find ourselves, as a result of government policies, is in a situation, where culturally, we don't rent our houses but buy them and we have so much stake in our houses that we are in a spiral and the government cannot afford to allow HDB prices to fall in line with market prices or it will wipe out so much value of average Singaporean assets.

Rising of the retirement age is a joke. Besides your points about individuals' desire to work, there is another very important factor. Other than being a McD's uncle or collecting soiled cookeries at food court, what are the employment opportunities for a 60 year old in Singaporean? Our government do not discriminate against race, and I am happy about that but why does it not institute policy to fight against age discrimination by employers? It not only do not have policies to give citizens advantage over foreigners but in some ways, FTs have advantages over citizens. We must be one of the very few, if not the only one, in the world to do this. I hope we do not surpass and exceed the rest of the world in this regard in our quest to be world class.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you 40+ singaporean.

It is really sad to see these 60s - 70 year old who had struggled through the hard times of 1940s - 19??s to still be struggling in McD, KFC, Food Courts. These elders who have gone through thick and with PAP is still struggling to make ends meet today. I have personally witnessed a young supervisor ticking off rudely an elderly cleaner at a food court for not clearing the dishes fast enough. I was further taken aback when - what I then thought to be foreign looking - was heard chatting away in a foreign language on his handphone. (The cleaners were speaking in unmistakable singapore-style teochew and hokkien)

It makes one really wonder, what is it to be a Singaporean. Granted these old timers may not be a corporate CEO or top civil servant in their prime but they had contributed in whatever they can in the past. They are in every tiny way part and parcel of the struggle when Singapore became a young nation. They heeded the call of then PM LKY to put their trust in the PAP for a "better tomorrow". Later PM GCT, now PM LHL.

Never mind that if the cleaning supervisor is a foreigner or not. How would you feel for a aged friend or relative who had gone through so much in the past and still be rudely scolded in public by a person not even half their age. Whatever happen to respect for the elders. Have money, capabilities, talent, etc overtaken such values.

People are now lamenting and dreading about being 40 above. Is this the Singapore we have wish for. What all this talk about family - spending more time with family, family outings, family bonding - when life is such a constant struggle. Whatever happens to happily retired and spending quality time with grandchildren. What is life about in Singapore and what is to be a Singaporean?

Anonymous said...

I do agree that not all Singapore females are apathy toward current affairs and politics and would only blindingly support the MIW. Or are only interested in fashion\idols or blogging like bimbos or what like a certain XX or whatever etc. In fact, here are some examples of intelligent female bloggers who are capable of seeing beyond a Korean soup-drama and blog about current affairs of politic :


However, based only on people I know, I do believe that the MIW does seem to have a stronger support base from Singapore female than the male. Perhaps NS is really the reason why this is the case, or perhaps not. As to be fair the MIW do create a very good and fair environment for the female as compare to many other countries.

Anonymous said...

Alright now. Please don't make this a commentary of men vs women. As a 40 something male Singaporean I apologise to all Singapore female for some of the insensitive remarks made.

For the sake of our country and fellow citizens, lets all redirect our attention to the important government policies that are affecting our lives and what it mean to be a Singaporean.

Anonymous said...

IMO the greying population or so-called "tidal wave" (another colourful PAP lingo that is ultimately menaingless but used as a fearmongering political tool) is applied too simplistically to rationalise the GST hike. It is true that there will be an ageing population, however it isn't always true this will be an increasing burden to society. Technological advances and changes to the work environment mean that people should be able to work longer (that is if they want to) to an older age with less reliance on hard physical labour. Certainly there will be increasing instances of medical problems due to wear and tear as one ages, and of course i oversimplify things too, as hard labour cannot be weeded out completely, at least not yet. However the benefits, profits and surpluses that the govt derives today and from past decades from increased productivity and efficiencies should then be disbursed to cover the increasing medical and social costs. It is only fair the fruits of yesterdays are accrued to past efforts. This is how the greater social balace sheet is balanced. Unfortunately right now there seems a disproportionate amount and emphasis going into one end of the equation in the form of 'reserves' and completely ignoring the 'human depreciation expenses'. Such a basic accounting flaw ignores the reality and it is only a matter of time such a company or inc. will face going concern issue.

This i am afraid is where the unfounded paranoia of some leaders continue to dictate the economical and social landscape of S'pore. The one dimensional mind untrained in the social sciences and historiography only sees dollars and hard cents and does not comprehend interlinkages and 'costs' that ought not be ignored. The proverbial slaying of the golden goose (notice again the colourful fearmongering language) is hence invoked. This "prudence" and incessant hoarding of surpluses strangely does not appear to be in application when it comes to certain state sponsored ventures overseas resulting in massive bleeding. It is naive to think that the golden goose will live forever, and right now it seems its hastened demise will more likely come in some form of overfeeding and gout, rather than the bogeymen of someone's fetid imagination.

Anonymous said...


You may be right about the sizes of units. I have not calculated the absolute gain/loss from SERS since HDB only gives ballpark figures and market estimates. Based on those figures, I won't lose out except for the time restriction. If I do, I will try to sell the flat.

The situation may be different for families or others.

Hopefully, by 62, I would have sold whatever property I have and migrated to a country with a more humane environment :)

Anonymous said...

And am I the only one feelng really uncomfortable seeing the Minister of Education attending a Casino / Gaming exhibition in the ST? And when the ST starts publicising / glamourising the pictures of the poker players, I think it is the start of the end for Sinkapore.

Anonymous said...

i repect sg woman like Dr Soin etc.. but when they elected Clair Cheong as head of woman movement..

i really shake my head..

a feminist with nice rebonded hair.. heavy make up and take every oppotunities to show off a happy family with a rich husband to the mass media...

thats uniquely singapore...

u cant say she dun represent sg woman at all .. cant u..

Anonymous said...

"Many SG males' eyes were opened during NS after witnessing the whole disgusting system before your very eyes..."

Food for thought:

Why, then, are there more male MIW talking cock in parliament? Why do most civil servants who have had a first hand experience in the system still stay in the system?

The answer could be deeper than just obsession with shopping bargains and nail polish colour.

Anonymous said...

looks like the REAL TIDAL WAVE could be from the bad investments and losses they made from the ctry's monies!!

Anonymous said...

Casinos are here to stay, never mind the social ills that will come because the government can always run to us with GST to reinforce the safety net.

Having an education minister at such an exhibition only serves to highlight their hypocrisy when they say they want to teach our children about resilience, perseverance and determination in life.

Anonymous said...

For those who are decide to migrate out of S'pore when you retire. You are doing exactly what PAP wants. They are already worrying about aging population tidal wave and Minister Mah has pondered about old folks home for aged Singaporean in another country.

They really don't want you around in S'pore when you in the 60s. You are unwanted baggage to them at that age. In fact, current sentiment has it that you are not contributing much to the economy but also to the birth rates. Birth rates, that's what they desperately want and that's why they come up with the FT policy.

Think about it, they'll be jumping for joy when more S'poreans 55 years and above migrate out of S'pore. You are not hurting them when you migrate. Is what you can do now that matters. Vote and educate others, there is much work to be done to the next election.

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous, Thursday, November 16, 2006 6:04:34 PM

I agree that we should educate our fellow Singaporeans and simply can't wait for the next election to arrive.

As for those who migrate at old age, they are not the ones the government wants to get rid of. It is the old and dependent ones (who aren't rich enough to migrate) they want to send away.

Those who can afford to migrate at old age are probably rich enough to do so and prevent the government from leeching on to their retirement funds and CPF.

Anonymous said...

"You are not hurting them when you migrate."


I don't think you understand those who migrated or are planning to migrate. Why would "hurting" PAP even be on their mind?

There will be more than enough "deer in the headlight / ostrich mentality" "stayers" for PAP to own their asses over.

You live in a Matrix, your life gets squeezed and sucked away. Good thing is, PAP do feed you propaganda via MSM to sooth the pain / stress.

The future is dark for Singapore. And very much darker for your children.

PAP and Thaksin are not much different. Titanic sinks, the elites have their own personal lifeboats. They have overseas properties and bank accounts. Their children (cannot call them quitters of course) are probably "livin' it" overseas too.

At least "quitters" are not just complaining, they are doing something! And they don't give a fuck about PAP.

Anonymous said...

I detest the en bloc system: it's a total ripoff and financially unfair.

I like how the Straits Times is more overtly biased these days. "Government /is/ prepared?" WTH? Why the indicative mood? What happened to at least something like: "Government is prepared: PM Lee", or "Government says it's prepared?"

Bloody Capital G syndrome!

Anonymous said...

Would appreciate if those who have SERS experience or know it very well share some of their thoughts.

I would not want to be ripped of since I am currently looking for a flat to spend my old age in.


Anonymous said...

Why, then, are there more male MIW talking cock in parliament? Why do most civil servants who have had a first hand experience in the system still stay in the system?

Because they've discovered how to take advantage of the system. Don't you agree that it is far easier to work the system when you've seen first-hand how it works?

On a similar note, does anyone REALLY know how much we have in our reserves? Since the PAP answers to no one and does not need to publish financial reports, do we just take their word for it?

The constitution was recently amended to allow GLCs and stat boards to access money in our reserves without having to inform the public or the President. Not that the public or the President would (or dare to) do anything about it anyway. This makes it much easier to play accounting tricks (ala Enron) to cover losses incurred by GLCs. Especially when the Prime Minister is also the Finance Minister whose wife also happens to be CEO of Temasek, the biggest benefactor from this shady amendment. Let's also not forget the Prime Minister's brother, who until recently, is the CEO of another big GLC. So don't be too surprised if you wake up one day and discover that Singapore shares are worth as much as Enron shares.

Anonymous said...

Yes, "work the system". Such a common phrase in the civil service. But for whose benefit?

I would like to be positive but judging from the rubbish we get from the MIW, it is more likely the system will change these people rather than vice versa. So I am skeptical when people say you can/ they hope to change the system from within.

And by the way, what is the President doing? Isn't he supposed to guard our reserves?

I am surprised the MIW have not sent a "Ms Brani" to counter the open secrets floating around about the familee. So they could be true.

Anonymous said...

And by the way, what is the President doing? Isn't he supposed to guard our reserves?

you do know that the president is bankrolled by the MIW.

Anonymous said...

I am Ong Ah Bee living in Kampong Chai Chee
Life used to be simple and HAPPY
I worked hard in my STUDIES
I learned A-B-C, and everything from 1, 2, and 3.
Primary school was quite easy
I passed PSLE

Then I went to SECONDARY
The subjects include HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY
Physics, Biology and CHEMISTRY
After O levels I went to JC
I was quite LUCKY

This is a small humid tropical COUNTRY
Surrounded by unknown potential ENEMIES
Boys turned 18 must go to ARMY
After that we may continue our Studies
The girls can just sit back, relax, and watch TV
They come to this world only to "Chia Liao Bi"

No one lives on free meals or depends on CHARITY
I had no money to go to University or Poly
So I went to work at a FACTORY
Trying to earn a little lousy SALARY
I have just enough money to buy ROTI and ride in MRT.

My bosses show me no SYMPATHY
Mumbling over my shoulder daily,saying : "HURRY, HURRY and HURRY !"
Accusing me of always trying to get MC
But my sickness was due to over stretch of OT
Going home after midnight by TAXI
And they pay me only bus fee

I Park-Tor and became STEADY
Finally had to MARRY
I lost money holding Wedding Dinner PARTY
Cheeky friends donating only cheap PANTY
After marriage, nothing was EASY

In one year, I became DADDY
I can't support my family and our BABY
Being tied down for life to repay HDB
and rising monthly utilities to PUB

My bank account has NO MONEY
POSB balance is almost EMPTY
DBS wants to charge me EXTRA FEE
Insisting that "Nothing is FREE!"
So I moonlight as KARANG GUNI

Many times I want to jump into the sea and MATI
But that is not EASY
My wife cries: "Who is going to support me and our BABY?"
So I can't MATI (die).

I went to seek assistance from the MP
His reply was simple and easy:
"Vote for me, vote for me, vote for me".
He never tell me any convincing Policy.
My dear friends, can you please help Ong Ah Bee?

Anonymous said...

I would like to be positive but judging from the rubbish we get from the MIW, it is more likely the system will change these people rather than vice versa. So I am skeptical when people say you can/ they hope to change the system from within.

I don't disagree with you, but I am still hopeful. So far, Ong Teng Cheong is the only person I can think of who has gone through the whole corrupt system and emerge untainted. Our country needs more patriots like him.

Anonymous said...

So far, Ong Teng Cheong is the only person .....

and he paid the price, did we even give him the kind of state funerals that past presidents have gotten?

Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for your interesting post!
I thought perhaps you may also find this related publication interesting to you:

Aging of Population


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