Should Singaporeans Be Loving It in LHL’s Dynastic Totalitarian Dictatorship?
Some years ago a British journalist called John Kampfner wrote a rather silly book called Freedom for Sale. Its thesis was that people around the world were increasingly opting for authoritarianism over democracy because of the better living standards and higher quality of life a dictatorship could provide. The poster boy for his ridiculous hypothesis was of course LHL’s Singapore, where Kampfner said Singaporeans had willingly sold their rights and freedom to the Lee dynasty in return for being able to grow rich. When I questioned him it became apparent that most of his information about Singapore had been from conversations with PAP’s in-house “intellectuals like Kishore Mahbubani and also from expat friends who lived in private housing. I asked him whether he had ever visited an HDB and he said no.
The PAP and much of the Western media and political establishment, either because of ignorance or because they are surreptitiously or openly rewarded for regurgitating propaganda and fake statistics, are continually harping on how fortunate Singaporeans are to be living in a dynastic dictatorship where key decisions are taken by one man. This is usually contrasted to apparent gridlock and political dysfunction in the West, Instances of morally dubious or even criminal and corrupt behaviour, such as UK Premier Boris Johnson receiving a police fine for attending an illegal party during lockdown or Israeli PM Netanyahu having to step down to face criminal charges for bribing media companies for favourable coverage are contrasted, either implicitly or explicitly to former Malaysian PM and convicted felon Najib brazenly stealing from his country’s sovereign wealth fund (1MDB) , with the supposed incorruptibility of the sage leadership of the Lee dynasty and the absence of corruption it has fostered. Such an image is of course possible only because in a totalitarian state everything comes under the control of one person and in Singapore LHL wields absolute control over the legislature, the executive, the media, the judiciary, the AG, the judiciary, the police, the CPIB, the land, the reserves and sovereign wealth funds as well as the shadowy corporations to which much government spending is channelled such as SingHealth which appear to be unaccountable, the economy, the people’s housing and savings, the universities, the schools, etc etc. While it is of course possible that Singapore is a black swan in a world where 99.99% of dictatorships lead to corruption and mismanagement with often severe adverse consequences for living standards for the majority of the population, anyone with a rudimentary understanding of science and statistic s knows that Singapore is unlikely to be a unique exception to the rule that we observe in the rest of the world.
The highest inflation in forty years provides an example to assess whether Singapore as a totalitarian state is indeed providing its citizens with a better life and if they have made an astute bargain in embracing slavery, rather like some have argued domestic animals did in order to gain greater security and more reliable food supplies but in return accepted becoming a source of food and labour for their masters.
Back in May LHL’s private monopoly media published a list of six food staples to illustrate how their prices had increased from pre-pandemic levels. Since then Malaysia has banned the export of chickens and fresh chickens have become scarcer than information about our reserves or Ho Ching’s earnings at Temasek. Chicken prices have only gone one-way since then.I compared the prices for the items in the list (brought up to date where possible) with the prices at the UK’s largest supermarket Tesco. Tesco might be the equivalent of NTUC Fairprice if it was owned by the ruling party in Britain as it has about 27% of the UK market as opposed to NTUC’s 34% share. NTUC undoubtedly has more monopoly power as not only is its market share larger but its ownership by the PAP means that it does not face any effective competition scrutiny and undoubtedly benefits from its connections. Also the second biggest supermarket chain, Sheng Shiong, is also connected to the PAP (the owners are grassroots leaders in their spare time) and it has been rumoured that the family is related by marriage to LHL though this appears to be false.
|Consumer Item||Singapore Price||UK Price|
|White Rice (2.5kg)||$5||£3.25 ($5.53)|
|White Bread (500g)||$1.50||£0.44 (S$0.74)|
|Whole Chicken (Per kg)||$15.50||£2.50 ($4.25)|
|Infant Milk Powder (Per 100g)||$7.25||£1.11 ($1.88)|
|Eggs (per egg)||$0.33||£0.16 ($0.27)|
|Cooking Oil (per litre)||$2.65||£1.48 ($2.52)|
From this cursory analysis it appears that prices range from about the same (for rice) to slightly cheaper (cooking oil and eggs) to much lower than in Singapore (white bread, chickens, and infant milk powder). I have not checked prices at the discount supermarkets like Lidl which would make the comparison even more one-sided. For instance the price of a large 2kg chicken is £4.29 which works out at $3.64 per kg.
Maybe the higher prices are offset by a higher median wage in Singapore? The median monthly wage of full time employed residents in Singapore was $4,680 including Employer CPF in 2021 (source Singstat) or about $4,000 if we deduct Employer CPF. The rationale for doing so is that most workers in the UK would get a pension contribution from their employer of between 7 and 14% plus they receive free healthcare through the NHS and unemployment and disability benefit (which workers in Singapore have to fund through CPF or savings). The UK median wage in 2021 for full time employed workers was £611 per week (source ONS) which works out to about $4500 per month. Since the definition of full time employment in the UK is more than 30 hours a week whereas in SIngapore it is 35 hours this would tend to make the median wage higher for Singapore. Before 2009 the Department of Statistics used 30 hours per week and this was then changed to 35 hours, presumably to provide a fake rosy picture of rising incomes for Singapore workers. However it would be more accurate to take London wages as a fairer comparison. The London median monthly wage works out at roughly $5624 a month. So the median Singapore worker earns only about 80% of his London equivalent or 70% if Employer CPF is excluded. The comparison is even more one-sided if one were to work out wages per hour. In the UK average hours worked per week are about 36 while in Singapore average hours are about 45. So on a per hour basis the median Singapore worker earns about $20 per hour while the median London worker earns a little more than $36 an hour. If we were to look at the wages of those on the 20th percentile then the situation would be much worse compared with the 20th percentile in countries like the UK or the US and Europe because of the absence of a minimum wage. In the UK the minimum wage is more than $16 an hour whereas in Singapore workers in McDonalds and gig workers probably earn less than half that and sometimes as low as $5 per hour.. Affter the deduction of 20% for Employee CPF these workers would have little disposable income left. No wonder the PAP are encouraging low income Singaporeans to cut back and have only one meal a day and eat mostly rice.
Far from enjoying a Swiss standard of living as promised by PM Goh back in the 1990s, Singaporeans are still poorer than citizens of countries with much lower per capita incomes. The PAP seem to be taking Singaporeans back to the 1970s, if not the 1950s. Universally there is plenty of evidence that surrendering your rights to live under an authoritarian regimes does not make you better off but worse off. People need to wake up to the fact that the PAP regime is not an exception to this rule, however much propaganda they are fed in school and by LHL’s private in-house media team that is paid for with your money. Democracy may be the worst form of government, to paraphrase Churchill, except for all the other ones that have been tried. That includes LHL’s dynastic totalitarian dictatorship.
Are you sure the government is encouraging that lower wage earners cut back on their meals?
Gov Ministers have certainly advocated that they switch to alternative cheaper sources of protein like substituting frozen chicken for fresh. That is cutting back by consuming an inferior product
Government Ministerz have certainly lg advocated being flexible and switching to cheaper alternatives like frozen chicken for fresh. Thar would certainly be defined as cutting back
It is clear to me that some Singaporeans have been conned, and the fact of their being conned is a significant factor for the presence of the PAP as a majority party in Parliament for so many years.