Read the Road Signs Carefully

In his letter to the ST Forum,  (S'pore chose the right road, 21 July 2012) [link], Mr Bobby Jayaraman says that 'Citizen's quality of life and growth are strongly correlated and that our government should not be blamed for something entirely in our hands'

While it is generally understood that growth is measured by GDP in Singapore, Mr Jayaraman missed out a crucial element in his letter, the definition of quality of life. My rejoinder to Mr Jayaraman is to ask whether Singaporeans had a higher quality of life in the years 2001 to 2005 when economical growth was much slower than the recent years.

Our median household income in 2001 and 2011 was S$4,363 and S$6,307 respectively. It was encouraging to see that our median income has grown 44% in ten years. However while Singapore was  making this possible by activity pursuing growth, we have to pay the price of undesirable growth in three areas.

The price index of HDB resale flats rose from 100 to 200 from 2001 to 2011, doubling in just ten years. [link]. A common meal in a food court cost S$2.50 in 2001. Today, it is S$3.50. That is a 40% growth, which coincides with the median income growth that Mr Jayaraman pointed out. Along these, Singaporeans had to endure hikes in tandem in basic necessities such as transportation, utilities, insurance, education and medical.

Population Density
Singapore's population density increased from 6200 to 7300 people per square kilometres from 2001 to 2011. On the average, any single Singaporean has to share 1 square km of space with another 1100 people compared to one decade ago. [link

Anti Foreigners Sentiment
The influx of foreigners is a by-product of Singapore's aggressive pursue of economic growth over the last few years. This resulted in a significant increase in discontent and frustration of Singaporeans.

Is growth and the quality of life strongly correlated as Mr Jayaraman suggested?

While we had a 44% increase of median household income, the rising cost of living essential fully nullified it, leaving Singaporeans with the same or less disposable income. On top of that, each Singaporean has less physical space to enjoy and contentment that Singaporeans enjoyed for decades has began to decay. Let me suggest a different ideology. Happiness - not growth, is correlated to quality of life.

Mr Jayaraman's letter has raised more questions than answers. Can Singapore afford the price of growth? Could we really choose the pace we wanted to run?


  1. Hi asingaporeanson,

    May I suggest that Mr Bobby Jayaraman either mistook Singapore as a developing nation (not true, Singapore is a developed nation) or he is ignorant of years of conclusive research that proves that for developed nations, equality (not growth) is the main driving factor correlated to the quality of life.

    1 1/2 hour video explaining the evidence

    Or go to the website to read about the research.

    Cheers, WD.

  2. There are many PAP MP wannabes in Singapore trying to imitate a chap who, many years ago, started writing glowing comments about Singapore,PAP, etc and, at the same time, unfailingly posting rebuttal to every piece in the forum page critical of the government and its policies. That chap was eventually rewarded by the PAP with an invitation to become an MP. He was an MP in Tanjong Pagar for years without having to fight an election. Writing is cheap.

  3. Fact is that the high growth is filtered down to the bottom 20% of the citizens. Why then the high growth? For whom? We are the 3rd richest country in the world with a third world economy. Wages are so low and working hrs are so long. Really fook up!

  4. Sorry it shld be "not filtered". Apology for the typo error.

  5. I noticed that your article to TRE had disappeared together with my comment. Such disappearing act seldom happen.