Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Singapore is not a good place for retirement

Reading the news this few days, I've come to the conclusion that the current Singapore is not a nice place to stay when one gets old. Firstly, this article asked retirees to consider China as a place for retirement because one can survive well based on a limited sum of savings. I think the article is in response to a Straits Time article that commented that 2/3 of Singaporeans want to retire abroad, and "the desire to retire abroad was highest among Singaporeans aged 21 to 34, three-quarters of whom have entertained the idea."

Then there is this article that talks about half of Singapore residents above the age of 50 are still working, in part due to Government's policies. "About half of the number of Singaporean residents who are aged 50 and older are still working, ... because as people live longer, they need to have enough savings for their retirement years. The number of older workers - 47.8 per cent of residents in this age group - is a new record that improves on the 46 per cent a year earlier and is a sharp rise on 35.9 per cent in 1991, ..."

So we have observation part (a) where many people, i.e. 2/3 of Singaporeans want to retire abroad, and that more than half of those above age 50 are still working. That is just 'desire' to retire abroad, but let's look at the reality currently. I've obtained this set of figures from the Parliament related news: CNCCs are issued to Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and foreigners above the age of 16 and who have resided in Singapore for more than 6 months.

They are requested for a variety of reasons, including applying for permanent residency rights in other countries (68% of applications), further studies and employment overseas (21% of applications) and ... The table below provides the number of CNCCs applied for and issued for the past 10 years:


Total No. of CNCC Applications (A)

Total No. of CNCC Issued (B)































There is also this article which talked about the 150,000 overseas Singaporeans who can get to vote at the next election, "some 150,000 Singaporeans abroad could potentially be eligible to vote in the next General Election, under changes to the law passed on Monday."

So here comes observation part (b) that many Singaporeans are no longer physically in Singapore, and based on the trend of increase in the request for CNCCs, many more Singaporeans would not be in Singapore in the years to come.

If I combine both observations, put it simply, people are leaving the countries because the life here has become too stressful such that people are worried that when they grow old they would not have enough for themselves. This trend is likely to continue, especially when there are little communities of Singaporeans abroad who would help to anchor other Singaporeans who join them.

So if the life here continues to be stressful, people will leave for a slower pace of life elsewhere, not necessarily for the welfare systems of other countries, but just for a slower pace. Changing Singapore into a working, fast-paced city will be just that, a fast-paced city. It is not a country, and it will not have an identity that the people ('workers") can believe in. This will be dangerous, for in times of crisis, the workers will just leave, and may lead to an accelerated collapse of the country, e.g. war, recession, diseases out break... etc.

If the current 'belief' to achieve economic progress at all costs continues, then we truly may not have a Singapore in 50-60 years. Sad... and where would I be in 50 years time?

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