This is a continuation of an earlier post.
3. Health care
There is no free health care in Singapore. That being said, the people aren't taxed for it either. At least you don't see it as a separate category in your income tax form, and yes, I am having UK's National Health Services (NHS) in mind when I say this.
However, there is a subsidy (read: not free) for the most basic healthcare. For those who cannot afford to to go to private GP or private hospitals, there are polyclinics and public hospitals. With the money saved from lower taxes, individuals have the choice of where they would prefer to seek medical advice when the need arises.
As a result of which, there is a variety of choices ranging from local GPs (normally a couple within an estate) to polyclinics and hospitals (public and private) staffed with competant medical staff. The same can be said of dental clinics.
In fact, this is one main thing that I miss sorely. After hearing some not so pleasant tales about NHS, I look forward to my visit back home when I will pay my local GP and dentist a visit to iron out any medical issues. Believe me, I'm not the only one. Needless to say, I was horrified to hear that some Britons have been resorting to using pliers to remove their decayed teeth.
4. Standard of living
There was a big hoohah when it was thought that Singapore has been elevated to a 'first world' status a couple of years back - it was clarified afterward that Singapore being removed from the 'Third World countries' list doesn't qualify her as a First World country. Guess that she's just somewhere in between.
After being granted independence by the British Crown in 1965 and with the remnants of British forces moved out in 1972, Singapore was left to fend for herself. With the communist regime looming in the background and the US fighting a losing battle in Vietname, It was a bleak time indeed.
Fast forward four decades, Singapore is currently sporting a GDP per capita of just over US$41,000 with population literacy of over 90%. Most (>80%) of her population reside in flats constructed by Housing Development Board (HDB), with most actually owning a 99 year lease on the property. The rest live in private properties that cost anything from US$300,000 to a couple of million dollars - a tidy fortune in local context.
During one of my trips to southern Europe, I met a French woman who exclaimed that Singapore is known to be an 'expensive place to live in'. Apparently, she has never been there before but has 'heard it from someone else'. Let there be no doubt, it's rather pricy if you wish to live comfortably in Singapore. Otherwise, it is just as expensive as any city of comparable size.
One of Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew (now the Minister Mentor in the cabinet) wrote in his memoir that he recalled pressing on a doorbell during a visit to friend's house in the 1950s and found it not working. He told himself that when he become the Prime Minister (he was from 1959 to 1990), he would make sure that everything in Singapore 'works'.
An author, whose name I can't recall, wrote in his travel book about Singapore being an 'frighteningly efficient' and went on to lambaste it as artificial. Well, it is in a way. Everything in the island state seem to work like clockwork, most of it anyway.
Breakdowns in trains and buses are far and few, luggage loss in the airport is rare, bus drivers don't terminate bus services for no good reason and even the postmen are on time. To a certain extent, Singaporeans are getting somewhat complacent such that they get very frustrated when there is a glitch in the system.
That efficiency comes with a price however; deadlines and targets set at every level are expected to be met and fulfilled, which of course lead to unwarranted stress that would eventually cause some Singaporeans to leave.
* * *
That concludes the 5 reasons why Singaporeans return to Singapore. But wait, that's not all, for there is one final reason, which I am certain that all Singaporeans will agree with me, why the tiny isle still beckons. Look out for the next post on The REAL reason why Singaporeans are heading home. Any guesses?
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5 reasons why Singaporeans return to Singapore - part 1 of 2
6 reasons why Singaporeans leave Singapore
Behold! - The REAL reason why Singaporeans are flocking back to Singapore
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This is a continuation of an earlier post.