Photo of elderly with Lee Hsien Loong taken at Toa Payoh from States Times Review

The latest World Happiness Report 2017 may put Singapore on a respectable ranking of 26 in terms of happiness but Singaporeans have nothing to celebrate. Among the 6 factors weighing the ranking are based off official figures without a context. Or to simply put in, the 6 factors are all inaccurately represented for Singaporeans at least.

1) GDP per capita (GDPP)
Singapore’s official figures of S$73,167 GDPP does not mean the average person earns this amount in a year. Given that the median salary for 2016 is S$4,056 a month, or 34% lesser than that of the GDPP. Coupled with the high income gap, the 20% bottom income earners who take home less than S$2,500 a month, are more accurately to be as “happy” as Indonesians (ranked 81th) in the income category.

2) Social support
Healthcare is paid for by CPF Medisave and the mandatory Medishield insurance premiums. Effectively, healthcare social support for a non-welfare recipient is zero. Retirement, likewise, is fully paid for by individual’s salary contributions and it is also fair to say social support for the non-welfare recipient elderly is again, zero. There is also no Minimum Wage, no unemployment benefits, no housing subsidies (HDB still profits by artificially jacking up selling prices before applying subsidies) and so…what social support are we talking about?

3) Life Expectancy
It is a fact Singaporeans are living longer, but they are also working longer. Singapore have among the highest number of elderly working past retirement age of 65 in the world, and the worst part about it is that no elderly Singaporean can afford to stop working. Also, most Singaporean elderly are also living longer in sickness and poverty, certainly not “happiness” isn’t it?

4) Freedom to make life choices
Singapore education system is among the most unequal in the world, that condemns students as young as 12 years old through the PSLE and O level examinations. If one is “relegated” into the Normal Technical stream, the NT student can forget about aspiring to be a high ranking civil servant or even be given the chance to enter a government university. The elitist categorical system that impose who is or isn’t “study material”, deals more psychological damage and causes immense amount of stress in students that eventually limits their life choices.

5) Generosity
When it is only when a person is self-sufficient can he afford to be generous, Singaporeans who have among the lowest purchasing power in developed countries and already having trouble feeding themselves or their parents are less likely to be generous towards the unfortunate. If the World Happiness Report is to be believed, why aren’t elderly Singaporeans living off the generosity of their own children? Or do they prefer to be generous towards non-family members? Look at the other end of the spectrum, we have the ultra rich elites the likes of PAP MPs and Ministers. None of them donate substantially to charities and they keep most of their “legal-ill-gotten” riches to themselves.

6) Perceptions of corruption
There is good sense why it is called “perceptions of corruption” and not “corruption” by itself. Take Japan for example, anyone would agree the country has a democracy more functioning and many level non-corrupted compared to Singapore’s brand of “democracy”. However, more percentage of the Japanese citizens perceive their government to be corrupted as compared to Singaporean citizens. The difference lies with ignorance and propaganda-fed environment of Singapore, as compared to the free media in Japan where critics openly pour scorn on ruling party politicians that would have seen them jailed or fined to bankruptcy when done in Singapore. Singapore ranks highly on perceived incorruptibility because every corruption is legalised. To facilitate such legalisation, the Prime Minister have full control of the civil service, Parliament, President, media and any society organs that should have been independent as a check and balance. Simply put in again, there is no check and balance in Singapore and every corruption is legalised.

When we break down the factors what constitutes happiness according to the report, it is only now we realise that Singaporeans are in fact the most unhappy in the world.