Sunday, January 13, 2013

What makes a better country?

Someone asked me to state which country has a better system than Singapore and to show how their system is better. From the way he puts his question, it appears to me that is is a "challenge" rather than a "question".

No country has a perfect system. Each system has its strengths and weakness. The assessment varies from one person to another. One person may like the system of a specific country,while another person may dislike it.

Since I have been asked, I shall state my views. I welcome people to give their views, if they differ from my views, but they do not have the privilege to criticize or attack my views. Just state their views and give their own reasons.

I think that Australia has a better system. Here are some of my reasons:

a) They have a minimum wage
b) They have a better work life balance
c) They have high tax and are able to provide better education, health care, pension, unemployment benefit
d) Their people are generally more board minded, confident and public spirited.

The Scandinavian countries and Canada also scored well in my view. Most of these countries have higher taxes and take better care of their "less competitive" citizens. Their people show better respect and empathy for people who are less well-off.

The Singapore system also has its good points, but I feel that the bad points are overwhelming.

The recent survey that showed the people in Singapore to be the "most unhappy" must be enough to open our eyes, even for those who accuse non-conformists of disloyalty to Singapore. We cannot continue to keep our heads in the sand.

My strongest indicator is the low birth rate in Singapore. There must be something wrong, when most people are afraid to start a family. And this has been going on for more than 25 years!


sgcynic said...

I would assess the "goodness" of a system based on its sustainability.

In Singapore, we have increasing wealth and income gap where even the middle income are increasingly priced out of the market - think public housing and COE. We have extremely long working hours and poor work life balance - think both working parents and their child in the education system. We have reached saturation point where systems cannot cope with the influx of large numbers of foreigners of varying degrees of skills and education - think housing, public transport, medical care. And the most damning phenomena - Singaporeans do not feel a sense of belonging (think "what am I defending") and want to and/or are emigrating, and are unwilling and/or unable to raise a next generation. So is Singapore as a nation sustainable? We can continue to import foreign "talent" to keep Singapore Inc humming. Is it good for our nation?

sgcynic said...

To use an analogy, it is like a marathon. If one were to run it like a hundred meter sprint, it will definitely look impressive while it lasts but we all know that it is simply unsustainable. Do not be dazzled by short term results and overlook the long term consequences.

Lye Khuen Way said...

Thanks, Mr Tan for putting in words so many of the good and bad about Singapore as it is for some time already.

One of the issues, that of low TFR is that couples are worried of their "home " affordability and education system.

With a so called Public Housing system that now want to be just cheaper compared to private condo by a "subsidy" of S$30K or more, such that the young couple could well need > 20 years to pay for their HDB flats, why is the PM still wondering and asking for a 'conversation " ?

Nicole Tin said...

Canada is better than Singapore.
See how these countries value their new citizen babies.

In Singapore, a poor family will get $8,000 welfare for 2 kids, while a rich family will enjoy $80,000 in benefits for 2 kids.

In contrast, a poor family in Canada will get C$80,000 in child benefits for their first child, in cash.

yujuan said...

Love the last item on the list,

"Their people are generally more broadminded, confident and public spirited."

In the late 90s, my son and I went to Vancouver to visit a relative's daughter who needed some comfort to adjust to University life there.
One day decided to walk up the road to Winter resort Whistler Mountains.
A car with an elderly Caucasian couple stopped and called us to hop in, and drove us to Whitsler, and even used their senior cards to pay a subsidized rate for our entrance fees, then bade us have a nice time there. And we are all complete strangers.
Another day, we tried the public bus where supposedly coins were accepted for payment, but slipped in paper notes, the driver did not protest and drove on.
Now contrast the people there with the young girl in Singapore, who watched me trying the out of order public phone, then told me curtly it's not her duty to warn me of its malfunction.
Would not wan my grandkids to live in such a society like Singapore -
cold, clinical, callous, selfish, die die your own business mentality.
Something is wrong with our school education, children not taught public spirited ethics in class grow up as parents with same mentality, and the vicious cycle continues.
It's interesting, Hongkong and Taiwan, have in recent years advancing to a more broadminded, confident, courteous, helpful and public spirited society.
Same Asian background, but different outcome in behaviour.

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