This is the message I got while watching the special programme on Parliament Reopens hosted by Sharon Tong. The panellists included Gerald Giam, Chan Chun Sing, Tan Su Shan and Zulkifli Baharuddin, the latter two, one an NMP and the other ex- NMP, more or less agreed that everything was improving. And at the rate they were improving, things would get better by the next GE.

The first thing that was improving according to the panellists was property supply and prices. The supply problem has been taken care of after 77,000 units were offered by HDB in the last 2 or 3 years. So, from under-building to ramping up building more flats, the shortages immediately improved. What a clever piece of decision making. I never thought it could be solved so easily. How come they never think of it in the first place? They must have found a genius to think of such an ingenious solution. Layman or common people would have great difficulties even trying to think about it.

And property prices are coming down by 0.6%! Very encouraging indeed. How much have property prices gone up in the last 10 years? 100%, 200% or 300%? Anyone got any idea? I think, without even looking at statistics, just gut feel, the prices of HDB flats bought direct from HDB and now available in the resale market are easily 2 or 3 times the original sales price. At 0.6% change, how many hundred years would be needed for the price to come down by 50% or 30%?

What else is improving? I saw a figure on the issue of Employment Pass. It went down from 80,000 to 40,000 last year. And employment of locals gone up from 40,000 to 80,000. What a miracle. And rightly, logically, by not issuing more EPs, the locals would naturally be employed to fill up the positions. Wait a minute, how many of the locals are citizens? Somehow I got this uneasy feeling that when they lumped everything under ‘locals’ the number of citizens cannot be too many. Just my gut feel. So, things are improving. ho say leow.

Another area of improvement is the number of stoppages of trains. This has gone down from its peak. Since when were there so many incidents of train stoppages? When was the time when train stoppages were a rarity? Is it really improving? What is the reference point? Zero stoppages or high stoppages?

I think there was another point mentioned as improving. Oh, income gap is improving, I mean narrowing. Sure what, with the wages of cleaners increased from less than $1,000 to $1,000, the gap must have closed up a bit. One caveat for this to be true, the top earners must not be earning more, assuming that their income stagnates or not changing. Like that sure the income gap will be narrowing.

I must agree that things are getting rosier when the major bugbears are improving. I can’t disagree with the panellists. No wonder they all looked so happy, and so was the minister.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean

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