Limits To What Government Can Do

The Straits Times recently carried an article of Singapore’s Law Minister, K. Shanmugam saying that there are ‘Limits to what Government can do in a free and open society’.

This comment was of course made in relation to a comment made by a grassroots volunteer who expressed concern that couples were marrying and having babies later which is causing a growing gap between adult children and elderly parents.

Everyone in Singapore would agree that couples are getting married and having babies much later than before but what are the reasons?

Several reasons can simply be picked out:

  1. Rising ambitions
    As a cause of an increase in ambitions to achieve greater things in life, many individuals put their ambitions as the first priority over marriage. 

    Are Your Ambitions Sky High?

  2. Economic concerns
    Linked to the first concern, ambitions can only rise because of the progress of the society which is interlinked to the progress of the resident’s economy. As the economic prowess of the country opens up to the rest of the world (globalisation) and rises to be more developed, it introduces new interests, requirements and perspectives from outside never to have seen before.  

    Thus, guided by these new pursuits, individuals are driven to meet those new interests, requirements and/or perspectives to feel a sense of self-satisfication. These new pursuits are economically driven (materialistic and extrinsic) and supercedes human need for permanent warmth and comfort because even those can be obtained using economics.

    Globalisation Of The World

Extending further, through government policies, cheap labour is introduced into the economy as a means of improving it. Through cheap labour, companies are able to improve productivity and efficiency. Cheap labour are willing to work longer hours to earn more because they do not have families here and are therefore the preferred choice for businesses.

Singaporeans who are able to perform the same job then needs to lower their wage demand or face stiff competition from foreigners who are willing to put in more for less.

Purely Business

So, since cheap labour is out of the question, that means Singaporeans then should settle for something less cheap which requires minimal paper qualifications.

Singaporeans who are considered cheap labour then go back to school to pick up new skills and knowledge and earn themselves the minimal paper qualifications. Jobs are there but so are many others vying for it. Worst still, those vying for it are much younger and have much more energy to work faster and are perceived to be a much more profitable investment because new entrants to the workforce aren’t picky about wages.

Either you compete with these same skilled workers for a lower wage or earn a better qualification to get better paying job for a better level of skill.

Back to school and you graduate with a higher level skill and qualification which will suitably place you in the middle-management in time to come only for you to realise that it’s much worst now.

Not only are you competing with younger individuals, you’re also competing with others whom the government call ‘Foreign Talents’ – individuals with a high level of skill and qualifications who are here to help contribute to the society.

It’s good if they are here only for the short term cause they’ll then leave that job empty for a Singaporean to fill in but unfortunately, most of them who are single find a spouse here and settle down here or if they are married, their family love it here and call this place home.

That job remains theirs and with that, a piece of property as well. Public or Private property, it doesn’t really matter because if they are willing to pay premium price for that property, the price of property will increase as well since it’s an open market system.

That spells more bad news for you then.

Not only do you now don’t have a job, you are perhaps over-qualified and owning a property will mean you’ll have to work doubly hard because others can pay for property in cash, in an instant whilst you need to work hard to build up that CPF savings nest first to qualify for a particular property that you have been aiming for.

Not to forget, you’re still single and age is catching up on you but you know getting married is the last thing on your mind because if you don’t have a job, you don’t have money. Without money, you can’t get married and if you don’t have enough money in your CPF, no one will want to marry you cause you can’t afford to purchase a home when you get married. And if and when you do get married, you’ll need time to save up more again before you can afford to have kids.

What’s the cause of it all?


And what do they then tell you?

There’s limits to what the government can do in a free and open society.

YES. Globalisation is inevitable. It is part of life and the sooner we accept it, the easier it’ll be to prepare but governments need to protect the welfare of it’s citizens as the world globalizes.

In a small country like Singapore, unfortunately, progress has come too quickly when it’s citizens were still growing. Once protected by the government, they are now vulnerable to the government’s economic expansion policies.

2 thoughts on “Limits To What Government Can Do

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 27 Oct 2010 « The Singapore Daily

  2. Pingback: Weekly Roundup: Week 44 « The Singapore Daily

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