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bigsale
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Pressure On Singapore's Middle Class Rising bigsale May 7th, 12, 10:19 AM #1
Quote:
The demise of the industrial era locally and the emergence of competitive giants like China and India are pushing down wages everywhere.


SINGAPORE’S P-MET (pronounced Pee-met) – the acronym for Professionals, Mana*gers, Executives and Technicians, a flourishing group of people who make up 51% of the workforce – is under stress.

Most are, of course, university graduates or diploma holders, whose numbers and role in society had steadily increased because of strong growth and people’s determination to get higher education.

In turn, it helped to shape Singapore into what it is – a rich, middle-class society.

The first blow was struck by the demise of the industrial era here as well as the emergence of competitive giants like China and India that pushed down wages everywhere.

Factories were closed or moved overseas and mass retrenchments followed, including executives and managers.

A series of downturns and recessions added to the toll. In 2008, for example, 43.3% of retrenched Singaporeans were from this group.

A new shadow now looms. This is the arrival of a small army of hungrier foreign P-METs who are always ready to accept lower wages.

Singapore is a middle class city. An estimated 70% of citizens consider themselves middle class rather than working class.

The influx of one million workers in the past 10 years included many poorer paid P-METs from India and the Philippines. Many ended up in finance, computer and multinational corporations, some of them easing out locals.

The arrivals are a mixed bag. The majority comprises lower-paid workers, but also includes many extremely rich settlers.

The demographic infusion is continuing but the government, responding to public pressure, has recently reduced the number of approvals given out.

It has eroded bit by bit the Singapore middle-class, already hit by economic changes.

Another effect of globalisation is the monthly departure of 1,000 Singaporeans to settle abroad for better opportunities and a more relaxed lifestyle.

In the past 10 years, 97,990 Singaporeans (excluding small children), had left, the government said. Many are young and well-educated professionals.

The erosion of the middle class was first noticed three years ago in Japan, and to a lesser extent in Hong Kong and Taiwan before arriving here.

It was enunciated as the M-shaped society by Japanese strategist Kenichi Ohmae, who noticed that among middle-class workers in Japan only a “very few” made it to the rich, while a greater number actually sank to the lower classes.

For some middle-class Singa*po*reans, this sounds uncomfortably familiar.

The gap between rich and poor in Singapore is the second widest in the world, and the government has promised utmost efforts to put it right.

For the government any weakening of the middle class is bad news.

Who forms the middle class?

There is no universally accepted definition, but Singaporeans generally base it on earnings. People who earn S$4,000-S$7,000 (RM9,800-RM17,200) are considered middle and upper middle classes.

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once said that any political party that wanted to win power in Singapore must win the middle class.

The mass arrival of foreign professionals into the marketplace is causing the government dearly in public support – as shown in last year’s general election.

Former Director of Internal Secu*rity Department (1971-74) Yoong Siew Wah wrote that “Singapore has 30,000 P-METs who have been unemployed for quite a long time, and we now have Chinese and Indian immigrants competing ... for the limited employment opportunities”.

What do the unemployed P-METs do? Many work as taxi drivers, property agents, insurance agents, financial advisers, remisiers, or tuition teachers, said a surfer.

In recent years, the Lee Hsien Loong government responded to the furore by cutting down the number of foreign PRs and raising the pay ceiling for foreign professionals.

He also pledged priority efforts to narrow the income gap between rich and poor.

Commentator Patrick Loh said: “If you look around, Singaporeans have lost many middle management and higher management jobs to foreigners for the past decade.

“They are still losing these to them. The painful part is losing these jobs to lesser qualified candidates, just because they appear to fit the role better with a cheaper pay package,” he added.

There is another compelling reason why the People’s Action party (PAP) wants to keep educated youths employed.

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew told accompanying journalists to India years ago that his government would want to avoid his host’s plight. Their universities were churning out too many unemployed graduates.

Recollecting from memory, I gather his rationale being: These unemployed graduates have the knowledge and free time to plan revolutions. They would hang around in coffee shops and talk politics, and soon a revolution brews.

Recently, an Education Ministry official was reported to have told a US diplomat (source: Wikileaks) that Singapore did not plan to encourage more students to study in university, and the campus enrolment rate would stay at 20%-25%.

I wonder, if this is true, is it connected to concerns about the possibility of unmanageable unemployment among graduates here?
Source: VIEW: Pressure on Singapore's middle class rising - Yahoo! News Singapore


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Last edited by bigsale; May 7th, 12 at 10:29 AM..
CyberTron Registered User


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CyberTron May 7th, 12, 10:33 AM #2
hmm...so while they limit the number of local study uni, the available capacity give free scholarship to overseas students.... nice logic....
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ynnad179 May 7th, 12, 10:56 AM #3
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Originally Posted by CyberTron View Post
hmm...so while they limit the number of local study uni, the available capacity give free scholarship to overseas students.... nice logic....
Couple that with the reservation of ITE for locals, and we get a nice conspiracy theory.

I hope I can save up enough to leave this place in the future.
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StoneWilson May 7th, 12, 04:16 PM #4
I have to admit that there are few words I can't read in the article, so I don't really understand the article. But what I do know is most people in this country are suffering from rising pressure.
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Del_CtrlnoAlt May 7th, 12, 04:45 PM #5
SG is basically churning out more 'office' workers, everyone is talking about working, but basically no work is done... something like investment, you know you bought something, you dont' feel it, touch it, but you can get money from it (if it gives you)...

waiting for see more 3rd class honors go be chef, 2nd lower go be floor managers, 2nd upper go be cashier, 1st class go take orders...

even the advertisement at the bottom is telling me to go Master of IT in Business...

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qussl3 May 7th, 12, 05:40 PM #6


That's your problem right there.

MODs: I dunno whether this pic has copyright issues, pls delete where necessary, much appreciated.
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ashrigo May 7th, 12, 11:01 PM #7
A nation with no manufactured goods (paperwork is not a product) is a dead end. If you have nothing to trade with others, you can only work for them. In the extreme case, that means enslavement, the economic euphemism is "factor of production". Put another way, "services".

A small territorial space automatically implies producing high value goods over bulk commodities. That used to be electronics, sometimes mil spec goods. All the degrees are crap if you can't make them produce thigs to trade for things that you need, like food. Financial services are not products. Looking at the Swiss, at least they have watch movements that nobody else makes better.

SG must find products to make if it is to survive in the long run. We have a few of these (oil rigs for one) but not nearly enough if we want to keep or improve the current standard of living.
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tourist May 8th, 12, 04:54 PM #8
One internal factor making life for wage earners more difficult

HDB new flat prices in 2004

3rm 90k
4rm 120k
5rm 160k
EM 280k

HDB new flats prices in 2012
2rm 100k
3rm 160k
4rm 300k
5rm 380k
EC 750k

I doubt starting pay doubled during the last 8 years

Quote:
By Ansley Ng, TODAY | Posted: 09 February 2009 0818 hrs


http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/407689/1/.html

When he first raised this in Parliament on Friday, Dr Lim gave the example of flat prices in the 1970s: S$15,000 and S$20,000 for a three-room and four-room flat respectively. A graduate with a starting salary of S$1,000 could pay off his apartment with 15 to 25 months of his pay, he said.

But today, though their starting salaries are three to five times higher, the prices of new flats have shot up “10 to 30 times”, he added.

“A high cost of housing has many repercussions as it results in higher costs of living, reduction of resources for other pursuits such as education and investment,” he said.
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CyberTron May 8th, 12, 05:06 PM #9
As long as the top kpi is pegged to gdp, and a lot of the nation "growth" comes from low cost labour, that is not going to change much.

While our productivity is consider quite high compared to world standards, and yet they want us to increase more productivity to see increase in wage, isn't that heading towards diminishing returns?
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tourist May 8th, 12, 05:23 PM #10
In 1973,

a 4 room flat (92 sq m) is $15.5K
a plate of chicken rice is 70 cents.
a fresh poly grad pay is $400 pm
a fresh univeristy graduate pay $800 pm
a minister pay is 3-4k pm, about 40K per year.

In 2012

same flat is $300K. (19x)
chicken rice $3.00 (4x)
salary of fresh poly grad $1.4 to $1.8K pm (4.5x)
salary of fresh university graduate $2800-$3600 (4.5X)
minister pay say $1 m per year (25x)

Rightfully minister pay should be no more than $200,000 per year ($40,000 x 4.5)

As we can see, life of a minister is still great despite a 37% salary cut, their rate of salary increment over 40 years (25x) has even outpaced 2012 HDB new flats inflated prices (19x).


The same can't be said for middle income wage earners.
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qwerty69 May 8th, 12, 05:27 PM #11
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Originally Posted by ashrigo View Post
A nation with no manufactured goods (paperwork is not a product) is a dead end. If you have nothing to trade with others, you can only work for them. In the extreme case, that means enslavement, the economic euphemism is "factor of production". Put another way, "services".

A small territorial space automatically implies producing high value goods over bulk commodities. That used to be electronics, sometimes mil spec goods. All the degrees are crap if you can't make them produce thigs to trade for things that you need, like food. Financial services are not products. Looking at the Swiss, at least they have watch movements that nobody else makes better.

SG must find products to make if it is to survive in the long run. We have a few of these (oil rigs for one) but not nearly enough if we want to keep or improve the current standard of living.

^ This above if we're to continue to survive.

Not that it is totally useless, but all the smoke screen now about productivity is BS.

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