Recently, Professor Tommy Koh wrote a piece on what Singapore can learn from Europe that has been going viral (around the Singapore portion of cyberspace at least). I’m not sure if that will make the government of the day sit up and take notice and do something; but it’s certainly a start.

In the article, Professor Tommy Koh makes very pertinent points about inclusive growth, fertility rates, heritage and sustainable development. Do read it. It’s very enlightening, particularly after hearing views from two different friends about living in Singapore.

First, I have a friend who’s just welcomed the birth of his second child. Child-rearing in Singapore is not an easy business. For greater detail about that, read Limpeh’s post here. He’s not very politcally-correct but hey, if you can’t handle the truth, then please don’t take the red pill. Anyway, point is, child-rearing in Singapore is very expensive business. Add to that the fact that working in Singapore is tough with all the long hours people have to put in and it’s no surprise that living in Singapore is tough. Worse still, cost of things like housing and private transport is expensive, public transport is relatively affordable but increasingly uncomfortable, it’s no wonder young, educated Singaporeans think of moving away. All they need is to hear about how much better life is somewhere else (for example, the perennial Singaporean favourite- Australia) and almost straight away, everyone sitting around the table starts to make plans.

Anyway, I’m not sure if my friend is serious but it’s certainly worrying that I hear of so many young, educated Singaporeans think of leaving  and I’m not sure if the government of the day is even trying to keep these people here. They may be but I dare say it’s not at the top of their agenda.

Second story comes from a friend who told me that he’s helping pay off his parents’ housing loan because they work hawkers, pulling in only a meager income and all their savings have been used to put their four children through school. Now, I don’t know if they could have qualified for some grant or bursaries but the fact that a low income family had to exhaust their savings for the sake of their children’s education tells me that something is wrong- either with the help itself or how the help is communicated. Now, put together the fact that even their children are going to have a tough time raising their own families, I’m not sure how his parents are going to survive if something should happen should they be unable to work any longer.

And this brings me back to Professor Tommy Koh’s article. It certainly raises questions about why and how we’ve come to where we are now. And given what I hear from people around me, it certainly seems that if we want to retain our culture and heritage, we need to also think about keeping the people that we consider friends and family here at home.

 

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