Faster Faster! More Singapore Sling!
Finally back! Now that is the third hot december I experience in a row in this lovely part of the world. It is nice to get the chance to spend a whole month at the place of choice. This town has me back for a little while and i am amazed by the buzzing development of this tiny Asian corner. What has been going on?
A famous news was to hear that the city will get the chance to host the first and only Formula 1 night race in September 2008. Fancy lighting in a metropolitan area will allow the race to take place without any compromise. Not surprisingly, hotel prices have rocketed around the track and can reach many thousand Singapore Dollars (roughly 2 Singapore Dollars = 1 Euro) per night, while the Singapore government takes the liberty to eat a considerable part of it as a special tax at the same time..
The city now really is covered with free wireless lan (‘wireless@sg‘) almost all around the city. This comes together with the announcement to start the rollout of highspeed internet around the city from 2010 on…which will be about 10 times faster than todays fastest available DSL. Of course the rich city is subsidizing this to a good extent (700m SG dollars of a total estimated cost of ~2billion)….after all, here one really can see the advantages of being a small city, which has a lot of cash and lives a metropolitan monopoly in the region.
Also, one huge casino will be built just along the nice view of the Singapore river as the city clearly cannot see all that gambling revenue going away to cities like Macau. At the same time Singapore copies the famous london eye and places a huge skyline-changing ferris wheel (the ‘Singapore Flyer‘) also near the river. Last but not least the proudness of the people here should be noted when the A380 took off for its maiden flight to Sidney this October, bearing the symbols of the national icon of Singapore Airlines. Singapore economy is of course also buzzing as usual (~8-10% growth a year)….so is there a catch in all that beauty?
FREE LOVE IN EXPENSIVE HOUSES
All the buzzing goes along with a steep increase in anything that has to do with property. Offices space rents increased by 80% only during the year 2007. Private housing also sees steady increase of at least 20% per year…This does of course not entirely apply to state subsidized housing such as HDB (Housing Development Board), but means that living in this city becomes more and more expensive and many locals cannot keep up just like that. The official inflation rates (1.0% for 2007 and 0.4%) are a joke and must be based on a basket of goods from the year 1980, which can be a reason why they not increase. Everything gets more and more expensive and the people generally get very snuffy when that happens (despite contrary announcements by government).
So what do the people do to counteract? They conduct another national sport besides ‘extreme queuing’, which would be ‘Extreme Job-hopping’. Generally, salaries in Singapore seem to increase by more than 10% per year, but this is rarely payed out when you stay with a company. What do the people of course do? Constantly observe the market and own value, then run off to the the next best offer as soon as the current year bonus is paid out. That’s understandable human behavior I think, but this makes the local job market for professionals unpredictable and volatile. Companies seem to find it increasingly difficult to establish a continuous and stable environment where their company can flourish. Can this be negative? Singapore experiences quite a remarkable buyer’s market regarding labor and some foreign companies might think twice before investing in a place where infrastructure prices are doing quantum leaps every year and your employees can jump off the boat at every second just to not miss another one which runs even faster.
Last thing I want to mention here is that despite a lot of worth-mentioning uproar against section 377 of Singapore’s Penal Code, this not-so-shiny part of traditional society has not yet been abandoned. What does it say? 377 states “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” which includes even consensual, private, adult homosexual acts (377A). The penalties are either life imprisonment or imprisonment for up to 10 years with or without a fine. Interestingly enough, 377 itself has been repealed in October 2007, so that now consensual anal and oral sex is not been seen as mere bestiality by law anymore and not treated as such. It has been replaced by a law criminalizing sex with dead bodies, which was apparently not punishable before.
377A however still remains, which means that homosexuality in Singapore still happens outside the law. Facing the modern world, Singapore has announced to not follow through with criminal prosecution in these cases, so the law shall not be actively enforced. However, this still does shine an odd light on this city as the law has apparently be kept due to widespread discontent with its impending abandonment (heard a number of 70% on the news). Therefore, I personally think it’s a step in the right direction with respect to public sentiment in this Asian society. This is again typical Kaizen…gradual improvement using small steps. Let’s see how this progresses further…