Five Cs of Singapore
"Five Cs of Singapore" – namely, [C]ash, [C]ar, [C]redit card, [C]ondominium and [C]ountry club membership – is a phrase used in Singapore to refer to materialism. It was coined as a popular observational joke about the aspirations of some Singaporeans to obtain material possessions in an effort to impress others.
Cash is self-explanatory, and refers more to a person's spending power than the actual amount of physical money in one's pocket. Financial security and affluence is a highly desirable status symbol and for many years was the measure of a person's worth and success achieved in life, more so than other achievements (e.g. great sportsmen were not accorded the same status as great businessmen, unless they happened to be rich, of course).
Approximately 1 in 10 Singapore residents own cars. From a lowly BYD to a BMW, Porsche or even a Rolls Royce, you can find almost any make of car on the roads (provided there is a left-hand drive model). Despite high taxation on the import and ownership of motor vehicles (191% on new vehicles, an annual road tax based on engine size, and high pump prices) and a vehicle quota system known as the Certificate of Entitlement, or perhaps because of it, cars are very desirable and viewed as a status symbol despite Singapore's developed public transport infrastructure.
Cards are a visible symbol of one's financial success. Singapore's financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has stipulated a maximum personal credit limit of up to two months' income if the person's annual income is less than S$ 30,000, or up to four months' income if the person's annual income is greater than S$ 30,000. Banks typically issue different types of cards depending on the available credit limit, associating greater cachet with cards that command a higher credit limit. This, together with car ownership, automatically creates an easily identifiable sign of affluence.
This refers not to the duplex/quadruplex housing developments found in countries with large tracts of land, but to privately developed apartments that are luxurious in comparison with those subsidised by the government. As land in Singapore is at a premium, freestanding houses are very rare and generally available only to those of high social and economic standing.
As such, the condominium is the most luxurious housing for "normal" people. This, however, has generated a trend, since government-subsidised flats are only available to citizens and permanent residents.[dubious ] A large minority of condominium owners, therefore, are non-permanent residents.
Singapore's limited land availability means that there are relatively few country clubs, golf clubs, etc., so membership of one or more of these amenities is another indication of affluence.