Monday, October 26, 2009

Singaporean vs PR

Like to state upfront that I have nothing against PRs. Some of my best friends are non-Singaporeans and PRs. However, I would like to give my personal take on why Singaporeans feel that there is no difference between being a Singaporean and a permanent resident (PR).

Fundamentally, Singapore should ask herself what is the purpose of a PR. Personally, I felt that being a PR means that you could "sample" what Singapore could offer to her citizens if they choose to be a Singaporean.

This is where lies the problem. Based on what the newspapers have gathered, there is actually not much difference between being a citizen and a PR.

Voting rights? How many Singaporeans have voted in the past few decades?
Rebates? How many Singaporeans are eligible for such rebates (excluding the rebates due to the economy downturn)?
Baby bonus? Education subsidies? Look at the demographic profiles of PRs and you tell me if its of any use.

My view is that to make Singapore more attractive for people to settle down, you will have to hit the spot where it "hurts". To do that, you just have to look at the CPI index. 3 areas come into mind:
  • Housing
  • Transport
  • Healthcare

With the exception of transport (excluding needy Singaporeans), both citizens and PRs are eligible for subsidies by the government for Housing and Healthcare. That in my opinion is where tweaks should be made.

For healthcare, our Health minister has already begun tweaking the subsidies for citizens and PRs. My view is that for healthcare, subsidies for the PRs should be reduced to the point where it "hurts". Personal view would be at least 25% lesser than the subsidy given to citizens. Polyclinics should also subsidize Singaporeans further to highlight the distinction between a Singaporean and a PR.

Next would be housing. I'm against allowing PRs to buy HDB resale flats. This is an excerpt from HDB's website:

As the public housing authority, HDB plans and develops public housing towns that provide Singaporeans with quality homes and living environments.

The key word here is Singaporeans. Therefore, I do not understand the rationale where PRs could buy resale HDB flats. The rental market is quite vibrant here and PRs could easily get a rental flat without any problems. Note that we're talking about public housing and not housing in general. The distinction between Singaporeans and PRs should be made clearer in this aspect. If you are a citizen, then you're eligible for Singapore's public housing. Otherwise, go private or rental. Owning a flat is not a given right, although it seems so in Singapore.

Transport is a necessity in Singapore for both personal and business use so I do not feel that the distinction should be made in this aspect. However, it would be good that in times of budget surplus or economy downturn, the government would have some kind of transport rebates for all Singaporeans (not PRs). This would send a message to the citizens that the government knows that transport cost is an issue and would help out when it can.

I believe the government should have statistics to show how many PRs actually converted to be a Singaporean. My guess is that the conversion rate is super low. Why? Because there's no "difference" between being a citizen and being a PR. That's why.


Anonymous said...

Quote: "
As the public housing authority, HDB plans and develops public housing towns that provide Singaporeans with quality homes and living environments. "

From the statement its clear that HDB didn't administer public house :), hence it is up to the market.
Since there is a lot of people do not want a flat with condition like facing the rubbish bin, located on 2nd floor, HDB as the one who "plan" should consider these point when it "develop" public housing.

chantc said...

I agree on facing the rubbish bin but I draw the line at having a 2nd floor. After all, you have to remember that we're talking about public housing. Outside Singapore, most people rent their houses almost half their lives.

2nd floor to me is not a necessity for a quality house. HDB is trying to get as many people a roof over their heads over the limited space. Therefore 2nd floor is a necessity. You can't just keep building upwards.

But I digress.

Seelan Palay said...

Thank you writing on this issue. You might also find this article to be of interest-

Singapore, From 1st world to 3rd word to first world to LOST world:

Anonymous said...

Hail yee, hail yee! My sentiments exactly. PRs should be barred from purchasing resale HDB flats. I have always stated this rationale to fellow Sporean friends who have also agreed. HDB was created out of the colonial SIT to provide affordable housing to citizens.

PRs can only rent HDB flats would be the solution or buy from the private sector.

You need only look at younger Sporean colleagues who plan to get married in your midst to see how much frustration they are facing now buying a resale HDB flat which they cannot afford or the impossibly long Qs for a new BTO flat.

Did not the authorities learn from the HK immigrants episode after the Tiananmen massacre when they gave lelong PR status to HKers. After about 2 to 3 years, they sold their flats & returned to HK much richer than all of us. HKers are serial opportunists. They smell money before anyone does.

Same thing today, China & Indian citizens flock here to buy resale HDB flats, when the economy is up, they sell and boy do they make such a huge pile of money they can build palatial bungalows back home in their villages. Most of the immigrants from China are from north east of China where cost of living is low, the profit they get from selling their HDB flats go a very long way that will probably last thru to the next generation or start a few businesses.

Seriously, I no longer have faith in the authorities anymore. I just cannot wait for the elections!

BTW stumbled across yr blog cos of your Japanese travel posts.

chantc said...

Hi... Hope you find the travel post useful. :)

Like I said, I have nothing against PR but I find that Singaporeans should have some advantages over PRs, especially when we are talking about public housing.

It's besides the point whether PRs only make-up of a low percentage of the resale flat sales or they have no subsidy etc, the fact is that HDB is public housing. So why PRs can buy it? The percentage of PRs buying resale flat is irrelevant.

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