Monday, April 4, 2016

Why overseas life is better

Today, the news reports that our minister, Mr Chan Chun Sing mentions that in order to have SG1000, Singaporeans shouldn't relocate and without Singaporeans as a core, SG1000 will not exist or happen. When asked why, he says that why not? And that choosing Singapore shouldn't be conditional to cost of living and trying to find lower cost of place to stay or somewhere where there are other benefits. We stay in Singapore because it's Singapore. 

Confusing? Supposed to be, indeed. We love political jargon

Well, in a humble personal opinion, it doesn't make sense for people to choose a worse option in life, regardless what aspects. Will you choose a overall worse paying job? Or paying for an expensive but less value meal where you no longer enjoy compared to another alternative. Humans constantly seek alternatives and countries compete for the best of us. It's a fair competition everywhere. The rich, as Singaporeans have become, have high mobility to travel and relocate easily. Thus, causing this shift effect to move even faster and be more conspicuous. 

I'm not here to discuss about the words. Rather, Id like to share a personal opinion regarding overseas and Singapore life, having worked overseas for a year. 

We all know the pros of staying in Singapore. Should I mention more than what is written in the Straits Times newspaper everyday? Singapore is first in everything, safest, most expensive city, clean and green, no natural disasters, etc. Many, however i will give a more balance view by providing the pros of my stay overseas 

Pro 1 of staying abroad:
Other countries are messier, indeed. It doesn't have ERP to beep and collect money from your car card you each time drive on the roads, and thus messier roads and traffics. But people there live with more freedom. Who says we don't prefer messy. It's a more relaxed life and messy keep things more comfortable. Who's room here ain't messy? Neat is weirdly restricting and plus that extra payment. Double the hurt. Who says humans don't live with mess? We love mess. Can you imagine life without mess. We're made to think mess is bad, it isn't.  

Pros 2 : money doesn't belong to you. Salary to make payments monthly 

Country Government doesn't stretch out their hand to ask for payment every month, let alone at all. They actually leave you alone. Can you imagine such a life? "Leave me alone" no longer becomes an assertion and wish, it has become an unnecessary word. Government and taxes leave you alone overseas. Why do I say that?
-Taxes are low and almost negligible 
-No 20% of salary taken from cash, which is at least $600 if you earn $3000 starting graduate salary, how much more if you earn more? And seriously, how much more cash you can have in your bank. It doesn't make sense people are putting in money in a place where they don't see benefits for themselves in 20-30 years time, and our money subject to policy changes, and will we be able to get it out at age 70? No one ever knows for certain. It's a lifetime of money that we earn that never belongs to us. 
-payment everywhere. Outstanding medishield, medisave, car tax what fancy name of certificate of entitlement (COE) which is $100,000 per car at home. 
-car have to be " scrapped" after 10 years. What is scrap? Why do you have to renew and pay for Coe again? Everywhere else in the world, you can drive car for as long as you want. Don't tell me about pollution, new cars old cars sports cars all pollute the environment anyway. Old cars? We can make do with that, like our 30 year old clothes that we still wear for keepsake and to save money. What's wrong? It's wrong when we are told so

Pros 3: time is yours. Abundance of free time 
Overseas, people playing music loudly while working and even when the boss walks past the rooms. Amazing? Foreign indeed. Weird spectacle never heard of in Singapore. Nobody has to be ultra efficient, ultra productive.
People take life slower. And healthier and definitely x1000 happier.

Pros 4 : low salary xxx savings Versus high salary same amount xxx savings 

It's impossible to save for yourself in your bank where you can proudly say the money belongs to me, and you are the only one with right to invest it and save the way you want to. Too much comparatively: Too much payments to central government, too much money spent on eating ($30 per meal after GST becomes $40 in restaurant compared to overseas maximum $10 nett where GST included), high public transport and taxi costs or fuel and ERP, paying for house (everyone should settle down at 20s), more miscellaneous payments, necessary household shopping like shampoos, some new clothes or gifts for friends birthday. Nothing left I say. Tel me how much percentage you manage to save after end of the month? 

Compared to in a foreign land. Less of government payments, prices at restaurants nett prices all included so you can easily calculate your budget without hidden and cunning numbers, low transport cost, low cost necessities and same gift but lower price due to low rental and low shipment costs and shipment taxes   ($5) 

By the way I don't understand why restaurants are allowed to be charged 7% service charge. Isn't good service supposed to be provided when we eat there. You mean it's something extra?

Also for fuel, whenever world fuel prices go down, Singapore government increase tax. Just did recently end of last year. Reason being, when fuel prices down, that's the right time to increase tax to ensure prices don't move so much and consumers able to take it. Seriously? You take that reason? And losing end always being the people making payments. Every household drives and owns a car by the way, so you are affected directly or indirectly.

I admit when we compare transportation, overseas might not be as neat clean and organized as Singapore, but even the most perfect country isn't. Our trains are extremely crowded, it will continue to be even if we pay $5 or $50 per bus trip. 

Pro 5: 

You're not taxes 10 times for the same product
Let me illustrate: taxes are passed on 

1) Salary annual tax
2) Salary cpf 0.2% before any spending 
3) Product import shipment frieght tax  (passed onto product price that you buy) 
4) GST of import invoice 7%
5) GST goods service tax of retailing food or items 7%
6) service charge: underlying legal tax by retailers to impose on people, an extra money to cover their rental and labour cost and add on to their profits
7) additional medisave or medishield a month $350
8) car tax $100,000 per car or per 10 years (this is a lot of money by the way, $100,000 is almost like a retirement fund and can bring you to 100 countries in your whole lifetime. But we end up having to pay $100,000 5 times if we drive for 50 years of our lives or buy for our children cars. That's $500,000 in taxes and that can bring us to 500 countries or sit 100 times business class or retire comfortably and luxuriously. How many of you want $500,000 in your bank account rather than with central government. Small and big money makes a lot of difference to our lives 
9) ERP road tax each time you drive. Most cunning tax. Road tax is every year. ERP is everyday or every weekend. Tax for nothing as it is already a roads that's jammed anyway. We don't want reduction in traffic, we want clear traffic for every cent paid. Thank you very much 
10) usually products are bought from overseas (import tax) then brought in by wholesaler (GST tax 7%) and then sold to retailers who buy small quantities to sel in shops (GST tax 7% again), rental tax when rent is paid monthly to landlord or shopping mall (GST 7% tax of invoice rental usually $5,000 for a small space )  and sold to consumers which is you (GST tax 7% for next product) the list goes on for every time the product changes hand until it ends up in your hands. We pay alot of taxes . Surprised in recent news why government run a deficit last year though. 

Pro 6 stop competiting 

Life a live of freedom. By leaving competition. And worse, harsh competition. Singapore since our educational days has been characterized by competition in grades and studies. We have been saying thing for so long, many people have been dying over pressure, and having worsening mental health including a mediacorp actress last 2 years. So why are we not listening as a country and doing something about that?

Competition is unnecessary let me tell you. And harsh competition cannot be condoned. It doesn't make us worse as a country, it makes us healthier. Why would you want to be best in everything but suffer and have the worse or an impending mental health problem that will scar you for life that you have to live with? Choose a healthy peaceful life or choose to be number 1. 

Speaking of being number 1, No matter how you compete, com on let's be honest. Life is such that there will always be someone better than you. No one is ever the best. What do you want to be best in? Something that invaluable and money cannot buy like health, or die from never being number 1? 

My idea of competition is self motivation. Not one forced by external environment let alone the system, or government policies. We choose our own lives overseas. There is no pressure.

 People live happily 

Metilda Koh 

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