THERE IS THIS MYTH that Singapore is a rich country and its citizens are well-taken care of. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 1998 United Nations Human Development Index showed that Singapore ranked 28 on the list behind countries like Barbados and Malta.
In fact many households earn so little that they cannot afford to give their children pocket-money for school, resulting in the students going hungry for the day. The following is a snapshot of some of the more recent cases uncovered:
An elderly woman in her seventies was fatally run over by a hit-and-run driver as she was returning home at 6:40 am, working as a night-shift toilet cleaner. Not only did the elderly lady have to toil in the night shift, her pay was so meagre that she could not even afford to eat lunch. To top it off she had to save to help take care of her 50-year old mentally retarded daughter.
Below are some statistical indicators of the poor in Singapore:
The elderly poor in Singapore lead just as tragic lives. Many have to, literally, work until they die:
In 1999 monthly wages for low-skilled workers decreased by as much as 34 percent.
The reason why the poor in Singapore are not more visible is that the Ministry of Community Development and Sports conduct frequent raids through its Destitute Persons Service, looking for and picking up vagrants. If Singapore seems to have less destitute, it is not because the numbers are not present. The real reason is that the PAP Government is just much more efficient in clearing the streets of homeless people.
For all the hype claiming that Singapore is a near-paradise, 20 percent of its citizens indicated that they want to leave the country, predominantly because of the stressful lifestyle and high cost of living. These would-be émigrés are mainly from the strata of younger, higher-income professionals.
With the costs of living rising, or at least not decreasing, and wages continuing to be depressed, Singaporeans are going to facing increasingly dire economic times. Without any rights, their problems will persist.