Baffling, alarming, revealing.


By Leong Sze Hian

What these statistics tell about Singapore..

Statistics that baffle

An increasing number of foreigners are coming as tourists to look for jobs in Singapore. Foe example, tourist arrivals from the Philippines saw an increase of 24.5 per cent to 678,000 from 2010 to 2011. Just for the first six months of last year alone, the number is already 358,000. Media reports say that such tourists have been able to extend their tourist visas to as long as four months to secure jobs. My, my …what is going on here?

Statistics that reveal

It looks like foreign workers’ levies are hitting record highs. Foreign workers’ levies and fees are estimated to hit $3 billion in 2013. It was $2.6 billion in 2011. This may cause prices charged to consumers to increase, and arguably also depress wages for both foreigners and Singaporeans. Where is all this money going?

Statistics that are ridiculous

We are hitting a record … for the wrong reason. After adjusting for PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) and using the same PPP in the Fare Review Mechanism Committee’s report, the monthly cost for unlimited travel on public transport passes in Hong Kong, London, New York and Tokyo is S$72 plus, S$162, S$116 and S$100 respectively. This makes these countries about 60, 15, 39 and 47 per cent cheaper than Singapore’s monthly pass at S$190. Yet, the transport operators are still applying for fare increases. Now if this is not ridiculous, I don’t know what else is.

My favourite statistic

The price of the cheapest two-room flat in Sengkang increased by 22 per cent, from $68,000 (June 2010) to $83,000 (January 2012). The latest BTO flat in Sengkang saw an increase in the two-room flat’s price to $91,000 (Fernvale Lea) and $107,000 (Rivervale Arc) in July 2013. This is an increase of about 34 to 57 per cent in the three years from June 2010 to July 2013, or an increase of about 10.2 to 16.3 per cent per annum. Can the government continue to use “affordable housing” as a badge of honour?

Statistics that sadden

Singapore has the largest wage disparity when compared with workers of different educational levels in all the high-income countries. The poorest 20 per cent in Singapore have only 5 per cent of the share of all income while the richest 20 per cent have 49 per cent of the share of all income in 1998 – the largest disparity among the high-income countries. How did we come to this situation?

Statistics that alarm

Low-wage workers in Singapore earn the lowest wages compared to those in the Nordic countries, the median wage of Singaporean is also the lowest among these countries. And more are remaining unemployed longer — at least 25 weeks — compared to a year ago, in particular those with post-secondary qualifications. According to the Manpower Ministry’s labour market report for the third quarter of 2013, the long-term unemployment rate as of September was 0.6 per cent — 12,500 residents — up from 0.4 per cent a year ago. Our founding fathers, wherever they are, must be shaking their heads in disbelief.