Higher aspirations and the cost of living

From ‘Higher aspirations one reason S’poreans find cost of living high’, 11 May 2014, article by Xue Juan Yue, Today

Having higher aspirations in life is a reason why Singaporeans find the cost of living here expensive, despite real wages having gone up, said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen yesterday (May 10). But Singapore has to ensure that opportunities to get out of poverty must not be priced out and remain abundant to fulfil the dreams of younger Singaporeans, said Dr Ng.

The Defence Minister was speaking at a Singapore Medical Association dinner and responding to a question from the audience concerned over the rising cost of living in Singapore.“If you look at household goods, per household, what people have – handphone, TV – has actually gone up,” said Dr Ng. Unlike the past, mobile phones are almost an essential item for children, he added.

That Singaporeans find costs of living expensive due to higher aspirations is a reason that will not please people, including himself, said Dr Ng, as the reason is “objective” and does not address “issues of the heart.”

The reason is unsatisfactory because there are things which will increase that don’t give a hoot about our aspirations or ‘wants’ in life. Take fuel costs, electricity, food or even basic housing, for example, which will go up whether you choose to pursue a phD and Masters, or rot like a hermit at home. The more you consume, the poorer you’ll get, and any village idiot can tell you that. It has nothing to with what we normally associate with ‘aspirations’. The need for ‘handphones and TVs’ are symptoms of us ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Nothing noble or honourable about it at all. The reason does not please people not because it’s ‘objective’, but because it’s simplistic. I could ‘aspire’ to be the first international male porn star in Singapore and the kopitiam will still jack up their hot water prices by 10 cents next year, whether I make it or not.

This comes from a former cancer surgeon who once admitted in Parliament that he gave up a comfy, high-paying job to become a politician, in pursuit of a higher ‘aspiration’, so to speak.

I will tell you squarely in the face that you’re getting a BARGAIN for the ministers you get. I worked half as much and earned five times more when I was in the private sector and no one grumbled.

Well, we Singaporeans must be the luckiest electorate in the world to be blessed with such value-for-money Ministers, leading by example as  what must surely be the epitome of TRUE aspiration.

In 2003, Dr Ng told Singaporeans desperate for jobs to be ‘flexible and realistic’ in their search for work, and not to reject jobs which ‘may not be ideal’. A Today reader interpreted it as ‘Don’t be PICKY’, a phrase which was repeated in a Today headline in 2008. i.e Forget about your aspirations, just get a job dammit! The cost of living continued to go up anyway, even if people abandoned their aspirations to, well, just GET BY.

Every high-flyer in Parliament has a rags to riches story to inspire the average Singaporean. ACS-ian Ng himself lived in a rental flat in Zion Road, enduring ‘hard times’ even after upgrading to a 3-room flat in Queenstown, getting his big break with a Government scholarship to specialise in cancer surgery overseas. Roped in by then DPM Lee Hsien Loong to stand for election in 2001, his Bishan-Toa Payoh constituency headed by Wong Kan Seng emerged victorious by walkover. Within 2 years he was appointed Minister of State for Education and Manpower. Today he’s a full fledged Minister of Defence and married to the CEO of SingHealth and 2012 Woman of the Year Ivy Ng with 4 wonderful kids, and now he’s telling us about how these damned aspirations are making us feel the pinch everytime we buy wanton mee from a hawker centre, get treated at a hospital, or conned by a telco into paying for 4G ‘value-added’ services.

Yes we all feel the pinch alright, we just need a harder one to wake us up from this nightmare already.








2 Responses

  1. […] larger aspirations result in better prices of dwelling everything additionally … […]

  2. […] greater aspirations and the price of living everything additionally complain […]

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