School fees going up, conservancy fees going up. People fed up. Economy must be improving then.
The masses are resigned to this 'natural order of things'
TODAY letter, Monday July 19, 2004
THE same symphonic pattern emerges.
First, the prelude, with the local media heralding a slew of statistics announcing the arrival of better economic times.
Then, a premature suggestion to restore the ministers' and top civil servants' pay cuts, which was greeted with unpopular feedback by many who felt that the economic upturn benefits have yet to filter down the masses.
The main theme comes into play with miscellaneous school fees and town councils' service and conservancy charges going up.
This will inevitably lead to more government and quasi-government bodies following suit.
The crescendo builds up as everybody scrambles to raise charges, taking the cue and green light from the early birds who first up their fees.
The finale ends in an anti-climax as the masses resign themselves to their fate — the swallows have arrived, spring has come, the flowers are blooming and so prices must go up.
We are led to believe that this is the natural order of things.
Oddly enough, when times were really bad and many retrenched, things took much longer to come down and the cuts were, if any, merely token symbolic ones.
What is worse is every price increase is met with the rhetorical reassurance that nobody would be deprived of basic services despite the hikes and the social net is always there for those who really cannot afford the increment.
The other tired argument to justify the hikes is that the charges have not been increased for so many years and therefore the increase is way overdue.
This is cold comfort as most Singaporeans would rather tighten their belts than go through the hassle of applying for poor men's benefits from the government.
So what is next? University and polytechnic fees, transport hikes, hospital bills, parking charges, stamps ...
Lim Boon Hee