5 reasons to live in Singapore

Posted: June 30, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

The New Paper published this article yesterday...

S'pore's the place to live in
By Larry Haverkamp (Doc Money)

OUR gross domestic product averages $53,000 per person, which makes us one of the wealthiest nations.
The International Monetary Fund ranks us number 22 among 180 countries. The World Bank puts us at number 19.
Did that just happen? How did it come about? Many of us take life in Singapore for granted, probably because we've never lived anywhere else.
I made a comparison, which will save you the trouble of moving overseas to find out for yourself!
Here are five advantages of life in Singapore.
1) Low taxes. Our tax rates are 0 per cent for the first $20,000, which makes life easier for low-income earners.
For the rich, taxes top out at 20 per cent for incomes over $320,000. It attracts high-income workers who appreciate not having to pay most of their income to the Government.
In comparison, countries charging the most taxes are Denmark (59 per cent) and Sweden (56 per cent), reported Telegraph.co.uk last year.
Companies here also enjoy low tax rates. They pay a top rate of 18 per cent on incomes over $300,000, which will drop to 17 per cent next year.
When it comes to investing, we offer the undisputed best deal. Our taxes on interest, dividends, capital gains and inheritance are all 0 per cent. You can't get lower than that.
2) Simple taxes. In the US, H&R Block is a US$4-billion ($5.8b) company that prepares income tax returns.
The US tax system is complicated. It has many loopholes and no one wants to miss any. So, 21 million US taxpayers pay an average of US$175 to 137,000 H&R Block tax experts to file taxes for them.
We don't have such an industry since our tax code is simple. It takes less than an hour to complete taxes online, which was the preferred way of filing for 90 per cent of taxpayers this year.
3) Low interest rates. We don't think about interest rates much, but they have a lot to do with our success.
Low interest rates make homes affordable. Our family, for example, pays only 1.6 per cent interest on our mortgage.
In the US and most of Europe you can't find a 3-year variable rate home loan for less than 4 per cent, and that is already an all-time low.
Businesses also benefit. Low interest rates make it easier for our local companies to keep costs down and compete internationally.
4) Good location. We are lucky. We don't sit on an earthquake fault like Sumatra and are not in hurricane alley like Hong Kong, the Philippines or Bangladesh.
We are located at a natural transit point that has made Singapore a logical port.
Our Port of Singapore Authority has made the most of this advantage. Today, Singapore is the most efficient and widely used port in the world.
5) Low crime. I have a friend from Germany who told me: 'Singapore is a very good place for good people and a very bad place for bad people.'
In many countries, parks are not crowded at night because people don't dare to walk through them. The chance of being robbed is too high.
We tend to take safety for granted. Our yearly murder rate is only 5 per one million residents.
That comes to about 25 murders per year, which is about one every two weeks. That may sound like a lot, but it ranks us among the four safest countries among 79 surveyed by the United Nations.
World's most dangerous and safe countries
*Annual murders per 1 million persons
Most Dangerous
1) Columbia: 618*
2) South Africa: 500
3) Jamaica: 324
4) Venezuela: 316
Most Safe
76) Singapore: 5
77) Japan: 5
78) Morocco: 5
79) Saudi Arabia: 4
* Source: The Ninth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends
This article was first published in
The New Paper.

My 2 cents:
"Low interest rates make homes affordable. Our family, for example, pays only 1.6 per cent interest on our mortgage.In the US and most of Europe you can't find a 3-year variable rate home loan for less than 4 per cent, and that is already an all-time low."

This is misleading, as the 1.6% he is paying is also near an all-time low, and is a variable depending on the SIBOR. American's higher mortgage interest rates means their savings (e.g. Fixed Deposit) interest rates are also higher. Our CPF interest rate at 2.5% is nothing to shout about either.

The fact is our GDP figures are skewed, as shown by our GINI coefficient. We attract high income citizens like Jim Rogers and Jet Li and Gongli and all that yes. So??? Jim Rogers is not really in Singapore most of the time anyway. Let's watch, if Jim Rogers' or Jet Li's kids will one day end up serving 2 yrs of NS in Singapore.

The citizenship is to park his money in a tax haven that's about it. Does it really make a difference to the lives of Singaporeans if Jim Rogers lived here? The answer is no. Oh no maybe there will be some economic effects from >> Jim Rogers buy a Lambo >> Lambo dealer gets big pay >> Lambo dealer go KTV >> foreign 'social' worker gets a big one >> foreign social worker invests in Singapore Condo >> Property price increase in Singapore >>End result: We are 'successful' and hence 'happy'. Or are we??

Jokes aside, the fact that Scandinavians are among the happiest people in the world is proof enough we don't need a low tax rate to be happy, nor another billionaire migrant. The key here is, beyond a 3rd world level of GDP income, what makes us happy is not what our media keeps wanting to have us believe. Maybe we should model ourselves after happy countries, not high GDP countries? Maybe PAP, as an elected government, should seriously take what the citizens want as what is good for us; and dispense with the tiring practice of showing up nearing the elections with freebies and handouts. Yes, humans are creatures with short term memories, but the internet and blogosphere has seriously changed that. Politicians need to play a new game.

I am tired of hearing on TV while on a crowded and slow moving bus ride, from yet another news anchor announcing another wave of fanatic property hunters swarming over an already expensive housing launch as if it is the best thing in the world. What happened to inflation control? Hmm, seeing as our property market didn't quite go through a correction like the US or Europe, perhaps it is time to consider a monetary policy move to address asset inflation becoming a Singapore-only bubble? How embarrassing that would be if it really came to pass.

Yes, a population of 6 million will indeed drive GDP growth. If that's the case, why not go for 8, or 9, or 10 million? We already know Singapore's natural limitations, why not address the problem now, rather than later on when over and above problems of growth, there is also over-crowdedness to deal with. What we need is a sustainable, organic growth model. Unlike Taiwan and Hongkong and South Korea, Singapore IS the smallest and WILL BE the first to come up against the wall that is limitation in size. What then? If Mr. Lee Hsien Loong stays as PM loong enough, which is highly possible given his young age, he might actually have to face his own doing.

If you check wikipedia, you'll find that Singapore's GDP per capita is higher than that of Australia's. Does this imply that the average Singaporean has it better than that of an average Australian? If yes, why are our average Singaporeans old folks still slogging away at the age of >55, and maybe selling the tail end of his flat for some retirement money, when the average Australian retiree is sitting in a cafe enjoying a book in the morning. Maybe the Singaporean lau uncle is taking his cue from Mr Lee Kuan Yew, whose advice is to "keep on working beyond retirement if you don't want to die, because people die soon after they retire"*. Exemplary are his tiring duties of flying around countries to meet interesting people.

I don't really know what is wrong, but I know something is wrong. I hope one day things will change drastically in Singapore, for I still wish to be able to live with my aging parents in a country they call home.

I reference this link for those of you keen to read more:


*not a word for word quote


  1. I cannot think of a more myopic and brainless article than the one written by this Doc Money. I will tear down the advantages 1-by-1. 1) Low taxes - We are paying implicit taxes in my transportation, medical and housing. Your real tax rate is low only when you take public transport, live on the streets and never get sick. 2) Simple taxes - as mentioned, we are paying implicit taxes, something that cannot be explicitly defined. What is more complicated than that? Precisely of its complexity, even a country full of accountants cannot satisfactorily define the real tax rate but to only rely on the "official rate". 3) Low Interest Rates - The interest we receive from our perpetual risk-free loan to GIC is the lowest anywhere in the world. The SIBOR rate + basis rate we can borrow from our OCBC/OUB/DBS banks to fund the property bubble is comparatively higher. Interest rates for borrowing needs to be measured relative to the rate we can lend. 4) Good Location - Although Singapore is free from natural disasters, it is 35 degree celsius whole year round with no seasons to provide repsite. It is low-lying so susceptible to rising sea levels from global warming. We cannot choose the environment we are given but importing more and more foreign labour to stress the limited resources we have is about the dumbest way to exploit it. 5) Low Crime - This is the only relevant point brought up. But in exchange for this safety, we have lack of political freedom and a population that is unthinking and ungraceful. Doc Money? Pls give me a break.

  1. Fievel says:

    Pirate, maybe Doc Money doesn't have to face the fact that Singapore is his one and only home. Maybe he can return to his other home anytime for retirement, and so his concerns are only those of direct taxation during his economically-active years. It's like Hongkong. Many go there to work only to leave once they've made enough.