Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ferrari Crash—An epitome of Singapore’s future

Sit tight. Fasten your seat belt. We are going for a rough ride from here. And the seat belt could no longer warrant your safety. And I am not talking about road safety over here but the future of this island-state-nation for our citizens.  

Last weekend, a Ferrari beating red lights crashed into a taxi at a junction at 4am in the morning. The accident claimed three lives, including the Ferrari driver and injured two others (thank goodness the motorcyclist survived despite being the most unprotected vehicle user). The irresponsible act of one driver, a super rich Chinese national, to cause irreparable loss to two families. Especially saddened by the demise of the taxi driver who was working night shift on that fateful night as the sole breadwinner of his family of five. He was declared brain dead on the same day but hung on for 39 hours before succumbing to his injuries.

I couldn’t help but to see this accident as the future of Singapore and thus, feel even more disheartened by this mishap.

In this accident, 5 casualties were involved. The Ferrari driver and the passenger are Chinese nationals; the taxi passenger who was killed was a Japanese; and the taxi driver and the motorcyclist are both Singaporeans. Of the 5 people on the road at a random time at a random place, only two are Singaporeans. This is the growing reality of Singapore nowadays. Just this year alone of road-related fatalities, more foreign nationals than Singaporeans are involved : a Chinese national hijacked a taxi and ran down a Malaysian cleaner; a Chinese national bus driver killed a Malaysian pedestrian; a Malaysian bus driver killed a pedestrian….Yes, the situation where the proportion of foreign nationals is overtaking the natives could only get worse, judging from the recent series of justifications of more foreign nationals needed, determined by our pedestal leaders who possess more wisdom than mundane creatures like us.  

Foreign nationals overtaking natives in numbers is already happening now and there is no reversal to this situation. But this is not the only phenomena that the Ferrari crash presents.

Of the two Singaporeans in the wee hours of the night, one Singaporean was working—the taxi driver. The purpose of the motorcyclist out at this hour was unknown. All the other foreign nationals were most probably having a Friday night chill out. Driving taxi for long hours is tiring and it is an occupation with zero benefits: no paid or sick leave, no bonuses or medical benefits. But this is a common option left for people who were retrenched in their mid careers who could no longer find employment in their previous industries despite their experience, given the unfair competition which some foreign nationals have with their cheaper labour and their presence in every industry.

The disheartening fact which this unfortunate accident highlighted, is that the helpless average working Singaporeans, in this case, the taxi driver, will be run over by the super rich, represented by the Ferrari driver. Pun intended. We are already run by the super rich for the last two decades. In the future, average Singaporeans will be run over by even more super rich, locals and foreign nationals alike. Ran over and crushed. Similar to what the Ferrari driver did to the taxi driver. Although in a different circumstance.

Singapore’s playground for the rich is growing bigger and faster. Look at the number of sports car growing on our roads and luxurious bungalows springing everywhere in the last decade. Luxurious malls for the super rich are mushrooming. Foreign nationals are lured to this growing pool of wealth too.

Undeniably, their wealth allows the rich to game the current system which for a start is pro-rich. Given their wealth, natives or foreign nationals alike, they can afford to flout all rules and regulations. Like that Ferrari driver.

This pool of wealth boosts real estate, businesses and landlords. And they can afford to grow wealth from their ready wealth. Salaried employees benefit little from that influx of wealth. In fact, they have to pay for the rising cost of living in consequence of that. No, I don’t buy into Tharman’s logic that inflation only affects those who will be buying houses and cars only.  On the facade, prices of housing and cars contribute substantially to inflation.

But inflation affects everyone. When prices of cars and housing are soaring high, the cost of transport and the high rental charge for businesses and retails will be eventually passed on to the consumers in the form of other commodities. And inflation is increasing from year to year. If we add up each year’s inflation, despite not buying houses and cars each year, the inflation for commodities, utilities, transport fare, medical and education costs are very, very real.  On the other spectrum, wages are not rising faster than inflation. In some unfortunate cases, wages actually fall or became stagnant. In short, salaried employees who do not possess any property to flip or to rent out, are fighting an eminent losing battle against the rich. The super rich feel little pinch from the inflation and profit more from the inflation via real estate.

Back to the Ferrari crash analogy, there is only that number of working hours a taxi driver could work per day. And the cost of running his taxi will definitely increase—have you ever seen fuel costs or rental for taxis coming down? His real income will be wiped off by the rate of inflation eventually and there will come a time where his income will not be able to cope with the living cost, no matter how prudent he chooses to be.

Inflation comes crashing on average Singaporeans fast and furious. Won’t be long before that crushes us to crumbs.

Policy-makers, the Ferrari driver in disguise, crush working Singaporeans in two ways: (1) allowing cheaper immigrant influx to control the rise of local wages for the benefits of the rich; (2) allowing super rich influx to sustain the current “economy” to benefit the super rich. 

Either way, average Singaporeans will be crushed.