Prosperity, sky-scrapers, luxurious shopping and glorious food. These are the things associated with the vibrant and multicultural place I am born in – Singapore. The Kindgom of Singapura was a small Malay Kingdom back in 1299 that was founded by Sang Nila Utama. Today, in 2014, Singapore is the most expensive city to live in.
By today’s living standard, the people of Singapore enjoys more goods and services than pre-independent Singapore. Singaporeans also enjoy more exposure to world cultures and economic activities. All these are relatively good compared to the earlier 20 years or so. The cost of living survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit may not include local the cost of living by locals but it sure reflect heavily on corporations relocating their employees from overseas with New York as the base of reference. This is a good sign of economic progress but it does not show that Singapore has one of the biggest wealth disparities in the developed world in terms of its Gini coefficient.
Wealth disparity also means social adjustments and interactions. However that is purely up to each individual with their tastes and debonair. What is crucial to me is that this sky-high costs is also a reflection on the kind of investments that the Singapore government is attracting. Manufacturing is slowly and steadily moving away from Singapore. The Jurong Town Corporation that was set up for the industrial estates do not have the same kind of manufacturing activities as before. One major reason is due to the globalisation of the world economy. The other is the very affordable labour cost and relatively low property prices of giant emerging countries like China and India. This results in the high property prices (including rentals) in Singapore.
In terms of economy, the Singa City looks flourishing and buzzing. If we question deeper into the types of economic activities, there are lesser factories and manufacturing companies that are employing huge labour. China do not just have low-cost labour, China also has plenty of land to rent out to investors for their business. Economic activities have a repercussion on the residential property prices. The property prices, labour cost and other goods and services will in turn cause inflation that will also push up the cost of living for the people of Singapore. There is nothing wrong in the ownership of property or having the liquidity to own more than one properties for wealth accumulation. If we keep on satisfying the people’s dream of wealth accumulation and disregard the people’s dream of home ownership (the reason HDB was set up to fulfil the housing problem in post-independence Singapore), it is inevitable that property prices will keep going up and become unsustainable.