Why are there so many opposition parties in Singapore?

Consider the kind of person who’d want to join the Opposition. First of all, it means you’ll be picking a fight with a ruling party that is beloved by the majority of the population. It’s a tough fight that you’re almost surely going to lose. Why would you do that?

Here are some of the reasons I can think of:

  1. You have deep principles. You’re convinced that there’s something wrong that most people are missing, and you find it necessary to fight to support for your POV. You might hate conflict but feel that you have no choice.
  2. You’re fundamentally disagreeable. (Remember, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People like this have achieved tremendous things in human history.) Maybe you thrive off of conflict itself. If somebody puts forth a proposal, you find yourself compelled to point out flaws and argue against it.
  3. You want attention and authority. You feel validated by wearing your party colors, you like walking around and shaking hands, and you like the idea of maybe having a shot at being an MP or a Minister or someone with status.

Notice that all 3 of these attributes create contexts for conflicts within any Opposition party. If we disagree with something on principle, I’m going to leave and start a party that is aligned with my principles. If we just disagree for the heck of it, screw you, I’m starting my own party. And why should I have to be your #2, when I can be my #1?

TLDR: Opposition parties are populated by people who, for better or worse, like to oppose. This makes it hard for them to come to internal agreements. If they were so agreeable, they’d never have joined an Opposition party in the first place – they’d have joined the PAP instead.

Is National Service Necessary?

I’d love to live in an ideal world where NS isn’t necessarily. Unfortunately, we don’t, and so 2 years of my time (+ reservist… I have a low-key ICT in two weeks, sian…) went to the State. I wish it weren’t necessary, but I appreciate that it is.

Beyond that, I continue to respect and appreciate Singaporean men for the sacrifice they make. Singaporeans who ill-treat NSFs are incredibly ignorant and selfish.

A couple of more points:

  1. War is inevitable.

Sure, there hasn’t been a global-scale war in 70 years. (Or at least… one that comes to our backyard lah.) But that’s like saying it hasn’t rained in 6 months. If you look at human history, wars happen ALL THE TIME. There are still Singaporeans alive today who lived through a war. Seriously, foreigners broke into our country and killed people. There’s really no reason why it can’t happen again.

(If you wanna be a bit history-geek about it– Singapore was part of the Srivijaya and then Majapahit empires, centuries before the British showed up. What happened each time? Piracy, invasions, people almost definitely killing each other. The humans on our humble island were almost definitely pawns in wars between greater empires. Welcome to the reality of our existence.)

2. Things are heating up in the world.

Pay attention. Religious fundamentalism is still a thing, and people seem to be getting more desperate. China is growing ‘peacefully’, and as it gets more powerful it’s going to start getting progressively more involved in the South China Sea. This shit is not going to be pretty:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_disputes_in_the_South_China_Sea

3. Yes, a lot of NS is wayang. And this is by design.

It’s because we live in peacetime. Making NS less wayang means accepting more costs, more casualties, etc– things that we shouldn’t necessarily have to endure when there is no reasonable threat on the horizon. (This is why Intel is so important, by the way.) NS makes a lot more sense when you realize that it isn’t meant to churn out war-ready soldiers. That would come at a huge cost that we aren’t willing to pay right now.

The entire NS/MINDEF apparatus is basically like an engine that’s kept running to avoid freezing up. Imagine if we did away with NS, and then in 5 years we find out that China is beginning to invade the region. We’d then have to set up an entire military from scratch. It’s far easier to “intensify” existing processes than it is to create new ones. Right now it’s really tragic whenever a mother loses her son in a military training accident. Seriously, hideously tragic. But the moment war comes to Singapore, and it is a near certainty of human history that this will happen, all of those lives lost will NOT be in vain– because they helped to maintain the apparatus that we will use to defend ourselves and our home.

Recommended reading on the side: http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2011/03/violence-is-golden/

PS: It’s been barely 70 years since tens of thousands of people in Singapore were murdered in cold blood by foreign forces, with heads being mounted on pikes outside Cathay cinema. Who do you trust to make sure that doesn’t happen again?

90 percent


90 percent of Singaporeans do not own their homes. We have a 90 percent home ownership rate which means that 90 percent of the residential units are owner-occupied, not 90 percent of Singaporeans own homes. The technical definition of home ownership rate is the percentage of homes that are owner-occupied, not the percentage of the population owning their homes.

90 percent of the residential units in Singapore are owner-occupied because most of our housing comes from HDB which provides only housing for sale most of the time. (HDB provides a very limited stock of rental housing.) Home ownership rate will always be very high in Singapore so long as HDB is the chief supplier of housing and it does not build homes for rental.

There is no direct link between the rate at which HDB supplies housing and the home ownership rate. Make no bones about it. The government is screwing up the supply of housing with its BTO system and this has nothing to do with the home ownership rate as Josephine Teo was trying to imply.

Access to housing is one of most important factors in household formation, and limited access to housing is one of the main reasons why fertility rates have collapsed in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

One of the reasons why people delay their marriage in Singapore and many other East Asian countries is because they need to accumulate more economic resources to buy housing compared to their parents. In countries like Australia and Germany, housing can be easily accessed through the mass rental market which does not exist in Singapore because of government policy to build only flats for ownership. This means that young people in Australia and Germany can get their own housing before or immediately after getting married. In contrast, the average new couple in Singapore have to wait 3 or 4 years.

The local media usually assert that Singapore has a high home ownership rate, higher than most developed countries like Australia and the US, and that it is a good thing when in fact, the home ownership rate tends to fall as national income levels increase. The home ownership rate is generally higher in lower-income countries than in developed countries. For example, countries with the highest home ownership rates include India, Bulgaria and Romania, not exactly your shining beacons of economic success.

What the local media fail to explain is that a 90 percent home ownership rate means that 90 percent of houses/apartments are owner occupied (i.e. the owner lives in the house), not that 90 percent of Singaporeans own their houses. Yet, the term is used all the time as if 90 percent of Singaporeans have their own homes. The 90 percent home ownership rate has no bearing on the quantity or quality of housing enjoyed by Singaporeans relative to the citizens of other countries like Australia and Japan. It simply refers to the mix of housing type in Singapore.

There is considerable truth about the housing situation in Singapore.

Singapore has approximately 1 residential unit to every 4.3 inhabitants while countries like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have a ratio of around 1 unit to every 2.5 inhabitants. Even in land-scarce Hong Kong, the ratio is around 1 to 3.

The artificial scarcity in housing availability is a deliberate policy in land use rationing. Part of the reason for this artificial scarcity is to keep land and housing prices high since Singaporeans are so heavily over-invested in real estate via the CPF which limits the options for investing household savings. The idea to use housing as the primary tool for household savings is a deeply flawed one since housing is an essentially non-productive asset unlike “green field” assets like machines and factories. Instead of investing our savings in technology and training, we use our savings to buy concrete shells in the sky. No wonder Singapore’s productivity growth is so low.


Singapore is Deeply Concerned

12-Sep-2011: “Singapore was “deeply concerned” that Australia’s actions would set a precedent ”seen to allow other coastal states … to encroach on the right of free passage as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”.”

18-Jun-2013: Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was “deeply concerned” that the 113 hot spots detected over Sumatra yesterday had caused air quality to plummet.

11-Jul-2014: Singapore “deeply concerned” about situation in Gaza: MFA

28-Nov-2014: MAS deeply concerned over Singapore banks’ rising offshore lending

Singapore’s president “deeply concerned” about Lee Kuan Yew’s condition

18-May-2015: S’pore deeply concerned over S’pore-flagged tanker shooting

25-May-2015: “We are deeply concerned with the recent spate of fatalities,” Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan told The Straits Times yesterday.

15-Dec-2015: “”We’re deeply concerned and very appalled by the killings of the cats in Yishun, and let me assure everyone that the authorities are doing everything they can.” – Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng

26-Jan-2016: “I am deeply concerned about the arrests of a group of self-radicalised Bangladeshi workers in Singapore.” – Yaacob Ibrahim

16-Aug-2016: The Ministry of National Development (MND) is “deeply concerned” over the state of financial controls and systems in the town council.

27-Aug-2016: Member of Parliament for MacPherson Tin Pei Ling has said she is “deeply concerned” about the first locally-transmitted case of Zika

09-Sep-2016: Singapore ‘deeply concerned’, ‘extremely disapointed’ by North Korea nuke test: MFA



I think every couple should have the opportunity to experience having a home all to themselves, at least for a year or so. If you’re expecting a child before you have a place of your own, then you will never know the joy of being uninterrupted in your own space.

That’s a damn shame. In my experience, having your own space has an incredibly calming effect on your mental health. It improves your relationship with your parents. It improves your relationship with your spouse. It gives you space to BE, which is in short supply in overcongested Singapore.

Minister Teo is right that you don’t need a lot of space to have sex. But deciding to have kids and start a family is a decision that’s tough to make in a congested context.

The space isn’t for sex; it’s to figure out who you are: as people, as spouses, as would-be parents, as a family.