Singaporeans afraid of the ‘M’ word?

It’s definitely not Money.

Unless  if it’s the inadequacy you’re talking about.

But the ‘M’ word is none other than…

MARRIAGE.

It is a known fact that Marriage is a big thing,  which is certainly not a child’s play.

My inspiration for this entry post was actually sparked off by these articles.

Runaway brides in Singapore: Janice’s story (part 1)

Runaway brides of Singapore: Picking up the pieces (Part two)

Why S’pore couples are delaying marriage: survey

Article 1 and 2 were written by my bestie’s sister in law by the way, which talks about a real-life experience of a couple, where the supposed bride-to-be backs out 5 days before their wedding.

Apart from this typical scenario where ‘pre-wedding jitters’ comes in as a very handy excuse, doesn’t this very much reminds us of the recent saga about a famous (currently infamous) blogger who is alleged to be the third party/home-wrecker of a couple who was supposed to get married? Their marriage was called off 2 months before the actual day and this blogger who goes by the initials of ZR destroyed their fairytale story?

Hmm, so what is it? Is ‘pre-wedding jitters’ / ‘I’m not ready’ really common excuses?

Or is it due to third-parties behind the scene?

If you’d read the 1st 2 articles on Yahoo! News, you would know that the marriage was an agreement to formalise and legalise the relationship (I mean who doesn’t know of this?), but what is most painful is the reason behind this agreement.

Is it love or is it not?

 

Government’s housing policies, especially for Build-to-Order (BTO) schemes

Most couples have cited ‘BTO housing’ as the main reason to get hitched because compared to the past, BTOs did exist but they took a much longer time to complete, whereas for now, these HDB flats are known to be built as ‘Lego Blocks’. The completion and possession date for all the projects are not accurate and in the recent projects shown, more and more BTOs complete way earlier than the estimated one.

I was thinking, an ‘estimation’ should be very far off from the actual date right?

But no, it is said that BTOs are now completed within approx 2.5 to 3 years, whereas the stipulated estimated completion date has a grace period of about 4 years and some even 5 to 6, as the case is for the recent BTO in Sept 2012 last year for the sizzling hot AMK projects.

But one should also know that there is an interim period between the completion and possession date, and that is the time taken by HDB to conduct proper checks and surveys on the completed flats, to ensure that everything is of quality standard (but owners of these flats who have had bad experience would beg to differ) before they deliver the keys to the new flat owners. Logically, if the flats are completed earlier, the possession date would be pushed forward as well, and that is when the couple has to be legally married before they possess the flat, i.e. take the keys.

Just take this as a typical example and life of a young Singaporean couple.

A and B are both currently undergraduates and would typically be in the age range of 21 to 25 if they have pursued their university education right after their jc/poly days and after serving NS for the men and because the stereotypical ‘ideal’ age to marry is 25 to 30 (Correct me if I’m wrong, people), especially for women, such young student couple commit to getting a flat.

In all seriousness, getting a flat together is a sign of wanting to settle down and what is meant by ‘settling down’ equates to tying the knot, which can only mean one thing – M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E.

Of course, you can back out/opt out/cancel this ‘commitment’ anytime you want, but bearing in mind of the risks involved. These risks include the costs incurred which varies depending on which stage of the commitment you are at, for example, if you have selected a flat from the BTO scheme, you would have to pay the option fees (2k for 4-5room which is popular amongst youths) and by cancelling the selected flat, you would have to forfeit the option fees as well as face a 1-yr debarment. This means that you can’t participate in any BTO/Sale of Balance exercise for one year which commences from the date of cancellation. Come the same cancellation twice, you will lose your first-timer status and drop to a second-timer status. For those who have no idea, this simply means your chances of getting a good queue number to select a flat is minimized and sometimes, you wouldn’t stand any chance at all if your queue number excessively exceeds the available no. of units.

Also extracted from the articles from Yahoo! News, couples who opt for BTO schemes are more likely to cancel their selected flat than those who opted for resale ones, since the latter does not take much time for completion and couples can move over within a shorter time period.

Government grants

Another issue with regards to this BTO scheme that urges / ‘forces’ young couples to commit at an earlier age than what they are mentally prepared for is the Additional Housing Grant (AHG). This is different from the usual CPF grant which is only applicable to resale flats. Young couples who have a combined income of less than $5k would be eligible for the AHG, however, the amount of grant varies for different income range.

This too has another implication – the earlier you apply when you are merely starting out as a fresh graduate, the higher the grant you will be entitled to. I have read the fresh graduates jumped the gun to apply because they are afraid that their joint income would exceed the max limit of $5k. Even worse still, I have read on forums that both applicants are currently still undergraduates. =O

Emotions are one thing, but practicality is another.

Financially, unless you have someone to pay the $$$ for you or willing to be a credible guarantor, don’t even think about it. Furthermore, HDB might not even be willing to loan any amount to you since you have no proper jobs. Part-time jobs such as tutoring requires evidence to prove that you are truly employed as a tutor, by submitting documents in black and white.

Any speculations of future careers/salaries are just merely speculations attaches an inaccuracy and are not absolute.

As the saying goes, “There is no free lunch in this world” and true enough, bear in mind of the resale levy you will have to pay if you purchase a flat directly from HDB in the future or from an open market with CPF housing grant, if your 1st flat was a new flat from HDB or resale flat with housing grant. Hence, regardless of the amount granted to you, for a 4-room flat, the resale levy is $40k.

So typically, a young couple  who have already booked a flat from the BTO scheme and who might already have paid the downpayment (can be 5 or 10% – staggered downpayment scheme (5%) is available for young couples – at least 1 must be below 30 years old) would have to consider all these financial issues if they would want to cancel the selected flat.

Marriage costs/Furniture costs/Renovation costs

So let’s say the young couple made it to the completion of the flat, but more financial woes come creeping in.

There is a ‘deadline’ for a marriage cert to be submitted, which simply means to register and legalise your marriage, commonly known as Registry-of-Marriage (ROM). Thereafter, you would be recognised as a legally wedded couple under the eyes of the law.

ROM nowadays is not simply to just head down to the Registry of Marriage to enter into a marriage contract (pathetic it sounds, I know) and pay a small sum of $26.00 (it was only $10 in the past as informed by my colleagues). Because most Singaporeans love to hold their heads high and wed in pride (for face la), they wouldn’t head down to the ROM for a simple register. ROMs can be held at anywhere, commonly at hotels, parks, beaches, churches etc with a recognised Justice of Peace (JP) and on top of the charges of these location and the number of tables, food etc, red packets are usually given to JPs as a token of appreciation.

But I must note that recently, due to the high costs involved, many couples are doing away with customary weddings (for Chinese) or are holding their ROMs together with their wedding dinner, for example, having ROM at 6pm and cocktail receptions at 7pm and dinner to start thereafter at 7.30pm.

I think that is a great idea but that must also mean you must show hands at that point of time. Due to the ‘deadline’ given by HDB, you need to submit your marriage cert but if you were to do it together, you must have sufficient funds to fund your wedding dinner, isn’t it? And would you hold it at a simple chinese restaurant, do away with the wedding dinner and have simple ROM lunch (because lunches is cheaper than dinners) or hold it at a reputable hotel banquet? Plus, yes it’s a once in a lifetime thing.

But some beg to differ because they believe that having sufficient funds for future usage or other purposes such as furniture, children etc seems to be more practical than to throw all your eggs into one basket.

I know these concerns due to my own personal research as well as to read what forumers say.

Prices of Houses

If this has not been one of the many concerns or should I say, complaints, that you read which are directed at the Govt, then a warm welcome back from Mars.

The price hikes have been on the rise and still is currently due to a simple economic reason – high demand and low supply.

Apart from the competition with FTs (for houses, for spouses (men in particular!), for work, for transport spaces…), PRs can now apply for flat too but 1 of them must be a Singaporean (although I might be wrong on this because I’ve not done any research on FTs,PRs…zzz).

It makes me wonder how contradictory it is for the Government to urge Singaporeans to reproduce but without any more land/space left in this tiny little island of ours. Plus, lots of speculations state that an increase in birth rate wouldn’t occur anytime soon. But just a food for thought, if for example, Singaporeans do reproduce rapidly like cats/dogs/mice, would the Govt then chase away the FTs who have been ‘invited’ over to Singapore just to compensate for the low population? I highly doubt so.

The third article adequately deals with all these problems in the initial part of the article.

Taking this discussion or monologue for that matter to further heights, that third article also deals with the reason in the delay of having children. The main reason – costs, and that is apart from the nightmares one go through during parenthood – which is another lifetime commitment, well unless the parent disown/abandon his/her kids.

For now, apart from other reasons such as career first marriage later, can’t find suitable partner/spouse/, still too young for marriage, I am mainly interested in the housing policies which creates a chain-effect of social problems stated above. I would most prolly leave the other pressing issues for another time.

The Govt must also take into consideration that ‘forcing’ couples to commit early or earlier than they are mentally prepared might backfire at the end of the day. Problems arise and lots of couples find it difficult to settle down peacefully and look at divorce as the only way out, which only leads to a delay in childbirth.

With such contradictions, social policies targeting at social problems have proved to be TAKING ONE STEP FORWARD AND TWO STEPS BACK which cynics have been good at pointing out at.

***

Alright, guess this is quite alot to digest on a lazy Friday afternoon, isn’t it?

All those holiday mood/festive seasons/TGIF feel is causing my incoherence and clogging my poor brain with one too many thoughts.

I wish you well this TGIF and the coming weekend.

And thanks for reading this lengthy post! 🙂

xoxo,

Jean

Speaker of Parliament, PAP MP Michael Palmer resigns due to extra-marital affair

Latest news on Singapore’s next sex-scandal.

Speaker of Parliament, PAP MP Michael Palmer who is also a lawyer with Harry Elias Partnership LLP has just tendered his resignation with PAP for his extra-marital affair with a PA staff who has also since resigned.

Teo Ser Luck will take over Palmer’s MP role in the constituency, while Charles Chong will take over the role of Acting Speaker of Parliament. (I hear them screaming ‘OPPORTUNITIES!!!’)

So I reckon for the time being, Former Chief of  Central Narcotics Bureau Ng Boon Gay can take a leap back…And also,  former Singapore civil defence chief Peter Lim who are both facing jail time over sex-related corruption charges.

Not forgetting the other ‘vice ring’ incidents relating to underage prostitution, in particular Howard Shaw – The grandson of Runme Shaw, founder of Shaw Organisation that owns the Shaw cinema chain who engaged in underage prostitution as well.

Sigh, is there really no end to this? Is there no more hope?

Are Singapore men, rich or poor, ugly or handsome and a list of other variants… jerks?

What’s your say?

On a more serious note on our politics, is there gonna be a by-election for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC?

Reading off Mr Brown’s blog : “I remember that PM Lee said during WP Yaw Shin Leong saga: “The WP has let down the voters of Hougang.”

So what’s gonna be next? Or who rather…

SMRT Bus Drivers on Strike!

So you’ve heard and seen it everywhere on the tv news, in newspapers and on social medias. Chinese drivers from China went on strike last Monday and as of today, 6 of them still didn’t turn up for work.

What sparked the strike was due to the comparison between Malaysian and Chinese drivers, which the latter argues that biasedness and unfairness played a major role in the salary differences they have.

Reason for the discrepancy is the welfare benefits (housing and transport) which Chinese drivers enjoy (although they claimed that the dormitories are unsatisfactory) and which Malaysian drivers do not.

Until the confirmation and verification of the dormitories, in particular, its quality and sanitation issues, I see no reason why Chinese drivers should be paid equally with Malaysian drivers, who indeed have to rush back to and fro from JB and Singapore. Furthermore, the poor hygiene could be also fueled by the Chinese drivers residents themselves? I won’t rule out that possibility.

It’s really similar to any other jobs where you look at BOTH the $$$alary as well as the other welfare benefits such as number of  leave days (annual leave, maternity leave, childcare leave, exam leave, hospitalisation leave, study leave) entitled, number of MCs, bonuses, dental claims, transport claims and so on…

So you see, it’s more of a give and take.

Plus, the $ charges for the dormitories and $ for transport costs are solely funded by the Govt at the end of the day, isn’t it? This simply equates to taxpayers’ money!

Whatever it is, all eyes are now fixed upon SMRT and their actions. And personally, I do not think we should easily give in to them for the potential abuses in the future. We can’t be accommodating to them each time they go on strike, isn’t it? Although there is a chronic shortage of manpower for bus drivers, there are easily other Chinese PRCs in Singapore. Finding replacements will not be tough but time is needed to fuel the sudden shortage of 200 PRCs if they quit/are fired. Out of the 1 million + foreign workers in Singapore right now, I’m quite certain Chinese PRCs make up most of it?

Don’t always be at their beck and call, otherwise, it would soon be their turn to call the shots, which most Singaporeans won’t be surprised.

Lifestyle – Speak Up! – Cab drivers in Singapore earning up to $7k/month

If you have been active on social media as well as reading the newspapers, you would be familiar with this ‘hot’ topic right now in our sunny island.

$7k a month? Yes, that’s right and your eyes ain’t playing any tricks on you.

This juicy piece of news sparked up interests, filling in the public’s curiosity and even, virtual commentators as usual.

It all started when The Straits Time published this article “Ex-manager earns $7,000 a month as cabby” and in came the usual uproar, spamming social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Stomp.sg and what not.

You know, the usual popularisation of such eye-catching news, just like the Amy Cheong incident, the late Dr Richard Teo who pours out touching stories and sharing his memorable thoughts as a cancer victim or another similar story like how Sakae Sushi is offering a $3k salary to dishwashers… Well, you get the drift.

How are such stories an eyesore to the public, in particular, jobs we consider as ‘lowly-paid’ ones that are allowing such employees to earn such an amount considering the lower job requirements? Those slogging their asses off are definitely cursing and swearing but should this be the case?

Back to them main story of this post, the public is certainly awed with such a fact – $7k/mth and questions its credibility as well as truthfulness.

Well, it is understandable that the public is believing what they have read, half-heartedly because such successful stories are considered to be a one-off kind of thing.

Try reading this article and you would understand why.

Cab drivers, similar to sales executives, are driven by the profits they make.

Driving for 12 to 15 hours a day is really no joke and personally, I have experienced several bad encounters as a cab passenger. You can’t blame me for complaining when the cab driver is repeatedly dozing off whilst driving and the car is swaying left and right! Can you imagine how dangerous it was – for both the cab driver as well as myself?

I understand that they want to earn as much as possible, but the stark difference between cab drivers and other sales executive – running on their feet, hungry for $$, is that the former faces much more danger and higher risk to his/her life in their job when they are worn out. They are maneuvering a vehicle for goodness sake and accidents do happen!

Apart from that, such one-off successful story shouldn’t be made a sweeping statement, “Let’s all quit our full-time job and be a cab driver la! Can earn $7k leh!”

Unless you are prepared to face fluctuating income (same as commission-based earners), sit (I feel you, desk-bound ppl!) and drive for 12 to 15 hours, 5 to 6 days a week, risk your own life as well as others’, face ugly customers/ppl (can’t be helped, applies everywhere…) etc, let us all try to appreciate our current job a little more, shall we? 😉

Plus, as the case has always been, we should always read whatever news with a pinch of salt.

Happy mid-week people!

P.S. I know I havent been posting up Food reviews recently.. Maybe I’ve been missing out on all the good food… 😦 But will be posting up the next review very soon! So stay tuned! 😀

xoxo,

Jean