Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And Equality For All

To be a citizen of Singapore, it means you submit yourself to the political system of totalistic control. You take on the citizen responsibility of defending Singapore. Of course as a citizen, you will also enjoy subsidies and the hand-outs which the Government doles out during election time. As a PR, you may lose out on some subsidies but then, you are also not liable to be tied down to a totalistic political system and you are not obliged to defend Singapore. You actually enjoy as many subsidies as most citizens. Which is precisely why citizens are feeling short-changed by this foreigner syndrome. The costs of being a citizen outweigh the costs of being a PR.

To finally address this issue, this divide, PM Lee has announced that PRs will no longer enjoy the same breadth of subsidised Government services as citizens. The costs of being a PR will be made higher. So that citizens will feel more privileged, more Singaporean. It sharpens the divide, privileges the citizen by penalising the PRs. Not that citizens will feel any substantial difference, for us, the status quo is maintained. We will pay the same amount, take up the liabilities of citizenship. We are made "better" in the sense that PRs will be made to pay more for refusing the liabilities of citizenship.

That punitive difference meted out to the PRs is very loosely then, the equivalent of the liabilities of citizenship. It is the measure of our circumscribed political rights and for males, our sacrifice of two years conscription and a minimum 13-years reserve military liability.

And it can be safely assumed that the punitive difference will never be qualitatively equivalent to the liabilities of citizenship, particularly Singapore citizenship. This bridging of the divide, through a punitive sharpening against the Other is supposed to make citizens happier? Behind this very political move is a worrying syndrome. That of pleasing a group of people by punishing another group. It is a warped privileging of the citizen. Almost nasty. It is typified Singapore governance.

There is another alternative. It is by sharpening the divide through privileging the citizens more, reducing the liabilities of citizenship. Then, the PRs will see that it is wonderful to be a citizen. And they will want to be a citizen, be part of the system whole-heartedly.

But more privileges for the citizen? It is a political anathema in Singapore, is it not? It smells of welfare. It smells of dissent. it smells of liberalism. It smells of political rights. It smells of freedom. All of which are pandora-ic political lexicons in Singapore. Uttered with sneers in cocktail parties, spoken with embarassed smiles in public forums. Lexicons which are always enclosed by the invisible parentheses when mouthed in Singapore.

So we are left then with one alternative, one vision for Singapore. And that is to fall back on the vaunted Asian values of our society. We make all equally miserable. So that the miserable citizen can look at the miserable PR and feel gratified : "At least he is as miserable as me!" Or : "Hah he is more miserable than me!". And the miserable PR will have to whip out his calculator and measure just how much, how worthy it is, in dollars and sense, to apply for the great Singapore Citizenship.

Quote of the Day --

"All applicants for citizenship must be of good character, have satisfied the residential requirement and have the intention to reside permanently in Singapore. They must also be able to support themselves and their dependents financially.", ICA guidelines for Singapore Citizenship Application

PS : For those who think me the master complainer, the ultimate hypocrite, for those who are impatient, who want action, who want change, I can only say that we have to first, regain the space, even for hypocrisy, to speak; because the space, even for hypocrisy, to speak has been denied us. Which is why we hear the all these signals, even hypocrisy, in the main media without a challenge. Second, with a foothold in this space, we populate it with lexicons, with words, which meanings were lost in the past twenty or thirty so years. Then, it will be the time when a word is uttered, the action follows simply because the meaning is known.


Anonymous whybeillogical said...

Hi XenoBoy,

I think that you are doing a good job bringing political issues to our awareness. There is nothing wrong with taking a stand and making it known.

People who agree with your views will call you an advocate; people who oppose you will label you a whiner/complainer. Don't take this to heart.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The power of people...
Hong kong will not slap its citizens with a consumption tax because of their concerns. Government listens to the people and to tell the fact they also made the journey from third world to first.
In Singapore...(speechless)

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U are doing a very good job XB salute to you!!!
But ihave one complain
whenever the state comes up with an idea, there is a good and a bad(somettimes very bad lol) side .
u present the bad, alwaya criticizing them....every one of them and thats perfectly fine but please sometimes try to give the other side to be more fair.
thnx :D

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another sharp post, Xenoboy.

Drawing from operant conditioning, the Singapore government prefers to administer negative punishment, by deprivation, than positive reward, by giving something.

While the State is not lacking in material wealth, it is certainly miserly on kindness and generosity.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

give the other side - to be more fair - ohhhh.....how I wish the ST and Mediacorp would do the same!! The minister salary, the election speeches, the rise in GST - have we heard the 'other side?' The only side they have quoted is that HK is scrapping the GST - without any insight on how Singapore Cabinet might be getting it wrong...

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have one complaint. How come the MSM only present everything good about the pap, nary anything bad in the reality of Singapore? This is so not fair to its citizens without giving them the bad side. (dripping with sarcasm....) I weep for my fellow

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another incisive observation, Xenoboy! :-)

The sanctioned conversation that the MIW permits is always, "THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE" and our main stream (state controlled) media is happy to play the propogandalistic role of promoting the key ideas and constructs of the MIW, that THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE (voice/opinion/view/policy option/possibility) of running Singapore Inc.

The reality is that THERE ARE MANY ALTERNATIVES but some of these will entail the MIW admitting its mistakes and releasing its stranglehold on the "meritocratic" system that rewards its (elite) supporters with financial and societal benefits.

An ex-British expat teacher once told me the reason why LKY and Thatcher got away so well was that they believed in TINA.


Let us reclaim our alternative, now.


1:02 AM  
Blogger prettyplace said...

nice, xeno boy nice...

The idea of the other being miserable....a good way to subdue feelings of Singaporeans who are unhappy about FT's.....

And like to add another factor on Welfare....the safety net...

once it is employed the fear of job security goes away....then the fear of the govt gradually erodes...

then the fate of the pap...

this country is really stuck...high unjustified asset values....

econmically these MIW are struggling....they have no alternative but to squeze Singaporeans....GST and whatever nots....before it was for growth now it is to sustain....that staus quo....which will come crashing down soon.....another crisis....and we will see a Argentina.....or Russia....

no way out for these fools....not anymore.....the poor people are going to struggle....soup kicthens...

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are citizens. And there are PRs.

But there is also a category called Honorary Citizen, who enjoy more perks than "ordinary" citizens and PRs.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous RLOHSL said...

XB, This space is not being regain, day by day and they know it. Keep it up!

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to read the 'naughty' article in the ST today. It mentioned that HK will hold back the GST and probably introduce it after their elections. I wonder if HongKong will sue / jail the ST journalist for writing such a naughty piece? Indulging in their local politics.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed your article. There has been so much talk about the divide, but then I tend to think that the creating of divisions in society is a tool which people in power will always want to maintain in order to remain in power. "Divide and rule" is the great mantra the grand shire has adopted from the day he came to power till now. The first great divide is the race and religion. We are contantly reminded of our ethnicity in the guise of maintaining religious harmony. This divide is operationalised with the housing policy, the creation of self-help group based on racial composition, the mother-tongue rule in education. Next comes the divide in terms of education in the form of streaming, elite schools, gifted programmes and finally the schlarship. We also have the divide by classification - heartlander,quitter etc. Then the economic divde, the lower income, middle and rich. Now its citizens, PR and FR. As long as these divide prevents people as identifying themselves as one, the people in power will always succeed.As XB said its the art of playing one group against the other. Herein lies the problem posed by the internet, esp blogs. People unit as one to share their views, regardless of race, language, religion, education, or economic status. This united voice represents the space which has long been denied and has the potential to be a threat.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very well observed XB
i could never have thought of that myself!!
Thank you for enlightening me
i can see the state's mind..."relative" happiness not real happiness.
i don see why the hell do we need foreign talent. i see it on these blogs everyday...the state sometimes says "singaporeans are not very creative"...HELL LIE.
I read ur blog regularly XB and i am astonished and happy by the amount of awareness and creativity we all have.
why buy silver from outside when we can get gold at home
keep it up XB!!
singaporeans...not creative.....foreign talent...Yeah RIGHT!!

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"dollars and sense" Lol ... I like that. Maybe dollars can entice these ppl to take citizen but sense will warn them away, i am sure.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good insight. You can see that MIW are solving problems as they appear. No long-term solutions to anything. Plug one hole and open another. So much for the value of money of these leaders. Millions down the drains...

8:06 AM  
Blogger shimure said...

For Years, the government has been enticing foreigners to be PR and later be citizens.

For years the benefits of singaporean benefits, scholarships and such have been given to them.

For years, the government is not complaining of the difference between singaporean citizen and that of a foreign PR by charging them higher cost.

The reason being, there is a need to increase revenue.

GST? CEO? ERP? Taxes? these forms of taxation direct or indirect has been used over and over again and have been on the increase.

2% increase in GST...... is it enough to cover the plans and loss of income to the government when they announce the reduction of coporate taxes and income taxes?

In order not to further anger the local singapore citizens, they throw a diversionally smoke bomb of increasing the cost and the fees of the PRs or foreigners.

This would cover the cost.

Bottomline BIG question......

This increase in money.....

Where would it go?

How would the government spend it?

Big question Mark......

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its quite simple actually...

The MIW have a problem...they want to increase revenue without pissing off those that may vote for them.

This so called "solution" is actually a masterstroke, killing 3 birds without even throwing a single stone (ie at no cost)

1st bird - less money spent on PR = more revenues
2nd bird - PRs may be "persuaded" (forced) to consider citizenship
3rd bird - some of the more naive citizens may be temporarily appeased by the move

Best part? The MIW does not have to invest a single cent in this so called "leveling the field, S'porean first" idea. In fact, they make more money!

so called "solutions" in S'pore is almost always a money milking idea.

Littering fines, ERP, COE, GST, sending our olds to remote indonesia isles...all justified as being the solutions to littering, traffic problems, welfare problems, aging population problems...
but look closely...all these solutions either save or make $$$ for the MIW

Thats why they're worth the $$$ they make...because they know how to make $$$ & solve problems at the same time.

Increasing benefits or decreasing liabilities of citzens can only hit the 2nd & 3rd birds...the first bird gets away & (god forbids!) the budget must be balanced again to include the incurred cost!

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote xenoboy "The costs of being a PR will be made higher. So that citizens will feel more privileged, more Singaporean."

im not so money face k...
the singapore identity does not lie in money! see, i m still stayin in sg although the gahmen sux =]
i will never leave, lets make the change n speak up

lets drown them with our salivers n words!

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because I'm not Xeno Boy:


8:03 AM  

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