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Ex-GIC chief economist asks Chan Chun Sing why he asks the people to help the poor instead of redoubling Govt’s “insufficient efforts”

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Ex-GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong has asked Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing why the onus to help the underprivileged is put on the people instead of the Government “redoubling its current insufficient efforts” to help the less privileged.

Mr Yeoh was responding to comments Mr Chan – the ruling party’s 2nd assistant secretary-general – made on Wednesday at the Straits Times’ Global Outlook Forum. Speaking at the annual event, Mr Chan called on individuals and groups to see it as their duty to help the “slow keep pace with the fast,” so that Singapore may “progress as a society together”.

Asserting that Singaporeans must develop a sense of “collective responsibility” to help the underprivileged, Mr Chan asked: “Do we take the maximum that we think we are entitled to have, or do we leave something more for those who need it more?

“If we have that kind of collective responsibility to one another, the kind of societal values that say it is a privilege to take care of others…and it’s not just about us taking all that we can – then, I think, we will have the new social compact.”

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Mr Yeoh has criticised Mr Chan for pushing the responsibility to help the underprivileged to “individuals and groups,” as he asserted that the Government should expand its “insufficient” efforts to help increase social mobility among the poor.

Offering an easy solution as to how the Government could help the underprivileged, Mr Yeoh noted that it is curious why the Government has not already done so since his suggestion is so “affordable” to implement:

“With all due respect Minister Chan, why is the government, the most powerful agent for “collective responsibility” seemingly exempt from redoubling its current insufficient efforts to increase social mobility by helping the less privileged and the onus put instead on “individuals and groups ?”
“For example raising the payouts of the WIS and SSS by $600 would effectively provide the working and elderly poor a living income that would not only seriously reduce absolute poverty markedly but also provide a platform for children from these families to improve their difficult lot
“The fiscal cost is less than 0.8% of GDP and eminently affordable, yet the government has somehow avoided doing this for a over a decade.”

Pointing to Minister Chan’s experience in the labour movement and the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Mr Yeoh further noted that it is “bizarre” that Minister Chan “seems somehow oblivious to the fact that only government has the financial and organizational resources to systematically do the heavy lifting in the fight against poverty and inequality and that it is government that needs to lead any serious systemic change in our social compact…”

Read Mr Yeoh’s post in full here:

https://www.facebook.com/lamkeong.yeoh/posts/2336624663079254

In case you cannot read the above:

“With all due respect Minister Chan, why is the government, the most powerful agent for “collective responsibility” seemingly exempt from redoubling its current insufficient efforts to increase social mobility by helping the less privileged and the onus put instead on “individuals and groups ?”

“For example raising the payouts of the WIS and SSS by $600 would effectively provide the working and elderly poor a living income that would not only seriously reduce absolute poverty markedly but also provide a platform for children from these families to improve their difficult lot

“The fiscal cost is less than 0.8% of GDP and eminently affordable, yet the government has somehow avoided doing this for a over a decade.

“Almost bizarre that a top minister who has helmed both MSF and NTUC seems somehow oblivious to the fact that only government has the financial and organizational resources to systematically do the heavy lifting in the fight against poverty and inequality and that it is government that needs to lead any serious systemic change in our social compact..

““To address the challenges of social mobility and social mixing, Singapore needs to develop a new social compact, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday (Nov 28).

“Calling on individuals and groups to redouble efforts to help “the slow keep pace with the fast”, he said the fast must see it as part of their social responsibility to reach out to those less able, “for us to progress as a society together”

“…”If we have that kind of collective responsibility to one another, the kind of societal values that say it is a privilege to take care of others… and it’s not just about us taking all that we can – then, I think, we will have the new social compact.””

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