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SDA Statement on Budget 2023: Where is the Singapore for Young Singaporeans?

There is a much-memed saying amongst the younger generation which is associated with the World Economic Forum,

“You will own nothing, and you will be happy.”

It encapsulates the self-deprecating disenchantment youth face today regarding prices escalating beyond their means, such that the concept of affordability is a joke.

It also reflects their pent-up anger at an older generation whom they believe are unfairly hoarding wealth and selfishly enriching themselves at the expense of young people.

This saying is commonly spoken amongst young Singaporeans.

You can’t blame them for being angry, and afraid.

Ironically, they are angry and afraid of a government that claims to be protecting their future.

The same government that unfairly criticises the opposition for wanting to “raid the reserves” so that long-standing problems can be fixed now before they get further out of hand.

Public housing prices have skyrocketed over the decades, outpacing wage growth of young Singaporeans just starting out in their careers by multitudes.

The government’s response? Be thankful, the few of you who can make a “windfall” from selling your home.

It then goes on to implement, arguably, short-term band-aid measures which will push public housing prices even higher, worsening the overall situation and squandering more of our tax dollars in the process.

The one saving grace? At least the government can be seen to be doing something more than just “monitoring”.

Young middle-income families looking to upgrade from a basic lifestyle find themselves squeezed even tighter.

Already hit by the soaring prices of private property, they now find themselves further handicapped by the increase in Buyer’s Stamp Duty.

The ultra-rich will hardly bat an eyelid, but for a middle-income family a real increase of between 8 to 14 percent would make them rethink their finances.

Adding to their woes – a middle-class sedan is now increasingly out of reach after the hike in Additional Registration Fee, a tax imposed on vehicles, and COE prices which have spun out of control.

The government has proclaimed that it is protecting the institution of Singapore for future generations.

They’ve been saying this for decades.

Look at what Singapore has become for all of us Common Singaporeans.

Over the decades, they undersupplied HDB flats, leading up to today’s steep public housing prices.

Over the decades, cities like Guangzhou and Bangkok have overtaken us in terms of highway development, while this government took the easy route implementing COE and building ERP gantries to solve our sorely lacking road infrastructure.

Decades down the road, will our children be happy saddled with debt for, perhaps, a S$3 million-dollar HDB flat and a COE – car not included – that costs half a million bucks?

Perhaps, they will own nothing and be happy.

There are good ideas proposed by opposition parliamentarians on how to ease the burden on young Singaporeans today, and the burden on future generations of Singaporeans.

These have all been flippantly cast aside by the PAP-led government, with an added dash of smug, cutting insults any reasonable person should take umbrage at.

It is easy to point a finger and belittle someone for wanting to “raid the reserves”, especially when the one doing the finger-pointing is the only one who knows just how much, or how little, is in our reserves.

The SDA, following consultations with residents in Pasir Ris and Punggol, will release our recommendations in our upcoming manifesto.

We will always stand for all Common Singaporeans.

When we touch our hearts, we know we must do right by our young Singaporeans of today, and the years to come.

Desmond Lim
Singapore Democratic Alliance

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