Hot. Sweaty. Welcome to Singapore.
On the journey back I’d watched Blood Diamond on the plane. I thought it was (surprisingly) really good! An action flick at heart, mixed with ethical issues in a dystopic setting, it was possibly the best film to keep you awake in that want-to-sleep-but-need-to-stay-up-to-fight-jet-lag state.
One side-effect is, having been exposed to the idea of conflict diamonds and having previously read about the ridiculous artificial inflation of diamond prices (for instance, there’s practically no resale market for diamonds – they’re essentially worthless after purchase), I’m actually quite strongly anti-diamonds now. Which might be unfortunate for my future wife in the case that she actually likes diamonds, but… too bad =P
I mean, seriously, why spend two months’ salary on a worthless piece of rock because its sellers want you to? If you simply like the appearance of the diamond, there are (far cheaper) substitutes you can go for, which are virtually indistinguishable unless you’re an expert. I’ll rather spend the money on a honeymoon, a house, a car or even simply giving it to charity – all worthier causes than supporting a meaningless profiteering industry.
Things are supposed to be getting more expensive right about now, with the 2% GST hike and increased merchant fees for NETS. I don’t really track the prices of goods in Singapore that much (being a non-shopper for the most part), but I have no doubt that it’s true. What I found interesting was that some merchants now charge more for NETS transactions, encouraging customers to simply walking to the nearest ATM to draw cash, thus distancing us from the cashless system NETS was initially supposed to be.
I bought some stuff at Sim Lim Square yesterday, and though the shop didn’t technically charge for NETS transactions (they’re not supposed to, according to the agreement they have with NETS, I believe), they offered a ‘GST waiver’ for items bought in cash – that is to say, they gave a 7% discount for cash purchases. I suppose this is technically legal, but essentially it is similar to imposing a 7% charge on NETS transactions.
Goodbye, cashless society.