This post is dedicated to all my fellow Singaporeans. It is not uncommon to hear fellow Singaporeans complaining once in a while about their gripes about the country. In fact, a quick google search will bring you to forums where some disgruntled Singaporeans complain about the government and why it sucks to live here.
They complain about foreigners invading the country and taking away jobs. They complain about the lack of freedom. They complain about the high cost of living. They complain about business being too competitive. They complain about the pressurizing education system. They complain about the government not doing enough and getting paid to much ($1m a year) etc…
First a disclaimer. I have no political aspirations and political affiliations. I am not being paid by anyone to say this. And no, I am not a patriotic person who goes to National Day parades. This comes straight from my heart… From a person who has benefited so much from being born and raised in Singapore, I believe that if you are born/raised in Singapore, you are really DAMN LUCKY!
Why? Well, I would go so far to say that Singapore is one of the best places in the world to achieve your dreams and to make your fortune (yes, even more so that the US-the ‘land of opportunity’. In fact, if you cannot being rich and successful in Singapore, it is unlikely that you can make it anywhere else. This is one of the easiest places in the world where anyone can become a millionaire, if they put their focus and hard work into it.
Here are some interesting facts.
1) Singapore has the highest concentration of millionaires in the world.
On 17 sept 2009 (see article below). The Straits Times published a report by the Boston Consulting group that showed that despite the financial crisis, Singapore had the highest concentration of millionaires in the world. In fact, 8.5% of Singaporean households have assets of over US$1m, excluding their property. Ranked number two is Switzerland, where only 6.6% of households are millionaires.
2) Singapore has one of the fastest growing number of millionaires worldwide. As you know, the US financial crisis has caused millions of people in the US, Europe, Japan to lose their drops and suffer a decline in their net worth. Yet, from 2008-2009, the number of millionaires in Singapore increased 32.7% according to Merrill Lynch Wealth Management (I am proud in contributing to this statistic by training a few thousand people through my Wealth Academy Programmes).
3) From 2009, Singapore was ranked the fourth richest country in the world as measured by GDP per capita.
All this success did not happen by chance! In fact, it happened against all the odds. Singapore has no natural resources. The country has no gold, oil, rubber, copper, minerals nor land for agricultural use. Heck, the country does not even have enough water to support the population. We have to buy water from Malaysia! Just 50 years ago, Singapore was a third world country that was overrun by communists, opium addicts and uneducated immigrants.
So how did this once impoverished country transform itself into an economic success? It was the result of the vision & beliefs of the people and the business-friendly policies that were put into place. It is these same policies that will allow anyone living in Singapore, no matter where there are, to become rich and successful beyond their wildest dreams.
Why is Singapore a land of unlimited opportunities of people seeking financial freedom?
1) Singapore is a meritocratic society. This means that there is equal opportunities for anyone regardless of race, language or religion. Even if you are born into a poor uneducated family, you have the opportunity to go to the top schools, universities and get any job you want. It is solely based on merit. This is unlike many other countries, specially in Asia, where you have to be born in a rich and well connected family to have a chance. In Singapore, everyone has a chance. Most of Singapore’s multi-millionaires like Sim Wong Hoo, Ron Sim, Olivia Lum etc… were born into very poor families but are worth hundreds of millions today.
2) Singapore has one of the lowest income tax rates in the world and no capital gains tax. Unlike in countries like the US or UK, you pay no tax on profits earned from stock and property investments. (This is the part I love the most)
3) If you start a business in Singapore, it takes less than 2 days and less than $315. No red tape. The first $100,000 of profits earned within the first 3 years is tax free. When you engage business/branding consultants or send employees for training to help your business grow, up to 70% of the cost is subsidized by the government. Very few places in the world support business people the way Singapore does.
There is also the big complaint that Singapore lacks freedom as compared to more liberal countries like the West. I have a different opinion. Singapore may be perceived to have less freedom given its strict laws on crime and expression of speech. However, I believe that in reality, Singapore is provides its citizens much more freedom than any other country.
In most countries, even the US, few people (especially young females) would dare to walk along the streets at 3am. There is a real danger of being mugged, shot and killed. However in Singapore, you can walk along the roads of the poorest neighbourhoods or in the darkest area of the park with no fear at all. That is what I call REAL FREEDOM.
I find it quite sad that it is only the foreigners who come here who truly appreciate the great life and opportunities that Singapore offers. I believe few Singaporeans realize how lucky they are. If all my fellow Singaporeans do not start to appreciate, cherish and love this country they were so lucky to be born into, I fear it will be soon taken away by others who are more deserving.