Foreigners pay more, but what’s in it for Singaporeans?

In its latest political move in preparation for the election, the PAP government has decided to reduce health subsidies given to Singapore permanent residents (PRs) by 10% this year and another 10% in 2011.

This comes hot on the heels of the recent increase in fees for PRs and foreigners studying in local schools. Back in 2008, the Ministry of Health had already reduced the PR subsidy in hospitals by 10% and completely eliminated the subsidies for non-PR foreigners. The government claims that these moves are to “make a sharper distinction between the privileges a citizen is entitled to, as compared to a PR”.

I fail to see how all this benefits Singaporeans. Are Singapore citizens now going to pay less when they are admitted to hospital or attend local schools? No. Is the PAP expecting Singaporeans to rub their hands with sinister glee, as they rejoice that their PR counterparts are paying more? I don’t think Singaporeans are that vindictive.

Therefore my conclusion is that this is simply a pathetic attempt to lull Singaporeans into thinking there is actually a significant distinction between the position of foreigners and Singaporeans in this country. Secondly, it seems this is another revenue-raising exercise for the government, since there has been no mention that the money saved in subsidies is going to feed into any programme that benefits Singaporeans.

If the government was really sincere about treating Singaporeans better, they would reduce the fees that Singaporeans are paying for government services, instead of punishing foreigners for political gain.