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Thread: Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

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    Default Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

    June 4, 2007

    Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans


    MANY Singaporeans must be celebrating at the moment, with the buoyant economy, high employment, higher salaries and, for private home owners, skyrocketing property prices and 'en bloc' frenzy.

    However, is the current state of the economy and future as rosy as it appears for most working-class Singaporeans?

    According to data published in a report on the wealthiest cities in the world by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on March 11, Singapore ranks 36th out of 70 cities based on gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005.

    A look at the rankings will reveal that, apart from Singapore, all the cities in the bottom half are in Second and Third World countries.

    Singapore's GDP of US$129 million (S$197 million) pales beside other Asian cities such as Tokyo (US$1.19 billion), Hong Kong (US$244 million), Seoul (US$218 million) and Shanghai (US$139 million). In fact, we are only slightly ahead of Mumbai (US$123 million).

    These rankings are arrived at by using purchasing-power- parity exchange rates.

    However, unlike Singapore, our Asian counterparts in Hong Kong seem to have more to look forward to. The projections for city wealth in the year 2020 show that Hong Kong is likely to rise to 14th position, while Singapore is likely to decline to 40th.

    The study (taking into consideration deduction of taxes and social-security contributions) reveals that net salaries in Asian cities such as Tokyo, Dubai, Seoul and Taipei will surpass Singapore.

    However, these sobering statistics apply only to the average Singaporean citizen. The top bracket of earners in professions such as medicine, law, banking and, of course, within the ranks of the Government, will earn as much, if not more, than some of their counterparts worldwide.

    What do these figures tell Singaporeans? We can conclude that even though we pay a relatively low rate of personal income tax, the net amount of wages we take home leaves us in the bottom half of the 70 cities in the PWC report.

    Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

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    Default Re: Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

    June 6, 2007

    Not-so-rosy future? Interpret stats properly


    I REFER to the letter, 'Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans' (ST, June 4), in which Mr Edmund Khoo quoted certain 'sobering statistics'.

    Mr Khoo mentioned that Singapore's GDP of US$129 billion (S$197 billion) pales beside those of other Asian cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shanghai. Yet, considering our relatively small population of 4.4 million, this amounts to about US$29,320 in per-capita terms, one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world.

    Besides, at 368 per cent, Singapore has the highest trade-to-GDP ratio in the world. A lack of natural resources and a small domestic market have forced Singapore to diversify its economy and establish itself as one of the top trading nations.

    Let me provide further statistics of my own.

    In the 2007 Worldwide Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Singapore emerged the leading Asian city for quality of living. At 34th position, we are one position ahead of Tokyo and 36 positions ahead of Hong Kong.

    Another survey by ECA International found that real salary increases in Singapore this year are expected to be approximately 2.8 per cent on average. This is nearly double the real wage increases expected in Hong Kong.

    My point is this: statistics are seldom what they appear to be. It is generally dangerous to take them at face value. They are almost never determinative of an argument; they are at most merely additional evidence that - like any other kind of evidence - must first be evaluated and then properly interpreted before being used in whole or in part.

    Let us be more discerning consumers of statistics, and look more closely at what the numbers from surveys and studies are really saying.

    Faye Chiam Pui Hoon (Miss)

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    Default Re: Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

    After giving themselves a pay raise with the booming economy as justification, they now publish the opinion that actually the average Singaporean is quite lowly paid and that the future looms scarily ahead for many.

    Sigh. How does it feel being manipulated by the press? I feel like sh*t

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    Default Re: Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    After giving themselves a pay raise with the booming economy as justification, they now publish the opinion that actually the average Singaporean is quite lowly paid and that the future looms scarily ahead for many.

    Sigh. How does it feel being manipulated by the press? I feel like sh*t

    Hello! What press? These are readers writing in lah!

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    Default Re: Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

    Quote Originally Posted by Registered
    Hello! What press? These are readers writing in lah!
    The fact that these particular reader sentiments are ALLOWED to be published, is the will of the invisible hand that works behind the press. Lots of readers letters are not allowed to be published. It is still media manipulation, what.

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    Default Re: Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    The fact that these particular reader sentiments are ALLOWED to be published, is the will of the invisible hand that works behind the press. Lots of readers letters are not allowed to be published. It is still media manipulation, what.

    Don't tell me you believe the first article?
    It is totally wrong even without the clarification from the second article.

    Many economies will be bigger than ours doesn't mean we are poor. GDP per capita tells whether one is poor or not. This GDP news was out 1 or 2 months ago. I am surprised that people can misinterpret it.

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    Default Re: Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans

    June 7, 2007

    Singapore's future is ours to make


    I REFER to Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock's letter, 'Future not so rosy for working-class S'poreans' (ST, June 4), and would like to share the labour movement's perspective on the issue.

    Mr Khoo referred to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report that ranked cities according to their relative economic size, and concluded that working Singaporeans will have a hard time. But, in fact, there was no mention in the PwC report about the wages or well-being of workers.

    The labour movement has always been concerned about our workers' interests, welfare and future. We believe that Singapore's future is ours to make. How well we do depends on our own collective efforts and determination to succeed.

    On the part of the labour movement, our concerns for workers' future translate into pragmatic initiatives to give workers better opportunities, better jobs, and better wages. An important lesson our former NTUC Secretary-General Lim Boon Heng has given us is that the best welfare for workers is jobs.

    We are thus relentless in finding ways to create more jobs and keep unemployment down. We are retraining and re-skilling workers, and redesigning and upgrading jobs. With each new skill, and with every new job, we give our workers the opportunity to improve themselves and strive for a brighter future.

    We recognise that some working-class Singaporeans, especially those in the lower-income and older age groups, will need more assistance to progress along with the rest of society. We have not forgotten them. Together with our tripartite partners, we are helping them to stand on their own feet through initiatives like the Workfare Income Supplement - the fourth pillar of our social safety net.

    We are also working closely with employers to restructure wages and harness the value of older workers, so that our economy will stay strong, nimble and competitive.

    If we continue to sustain our efforts and work hard together in tripartite partnership, we can create a brighter future for all workers in Singapore.

    Cham Hui Fong (Ms)
    Director
    Industrial Relations Department
    National Trades Union Congress

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