Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from CNA video

Speaking at the National Day Rally yesterday (Aug 19), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the increase in cost of living is a good thing, and that when people pay more, it means their standard of living have gone up:

“Our standard of living have gone up. That is a good thing because it means that our lives have improved. However to sustain this higher quality of life, people are spending more than before and that can put pressure on them.”

Using mobile phone as an example, Lee Hsien Loong then compared the 1990s generation, where phone bills were “S$8 a month or S$100 a year”. The S$2.2 million-a-year minister said some low-income families have phone bills as much as S$300 a month because everyone has a handphone.

Lee Hsien Loong also ridiculed Singaporeans for complaining about the cost of living, saying that they only remember price increases. Picking statistics from the oil price peak period of 2008 and forming his own price chart, Lee Hsien Loong defended the 13.7% increase in electricity prices for 2018:

“Electricity tariffs today are actually lower compared to 2008. According to my chart, the electricity tariff stood at 25.07 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in the third quarter of 2008. Since then, it has gone up and down over the years and is now at 23.65 cents per kWh. Unfortunately, we all remember vividly when the electricity tariff goes up but when the tariff comes down, we forget quickly.”

The millionaire minister who inherited his premiership from his father Lee Kuan Yew said the current cost of living is affordable and that Singaporeans have to be responsible for themselves instead of relying on the government:

“The Government has tried to keep inflation low and prices stable, but we cannot completely prevent prices from increasing…We will make sure that HDB housing, healthcare and education are affordable so Singaporeans do not have to worry about them. Measures are in place to allay worries related to the rise in water and electricity prices, but Singaporeans also have a responsibility to look after your own wallets amid lifestyle changes.”